Autonomous sonar boat searches for sunken treasure

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That’s cheating!! ……unless they find something cool then I want to hear about it

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Sure glad that Dude is on our side.

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That is really great but what really sticks out to me isn’t so much the automation but the fact that you can buy an off the shelf fish finder with side scan sonar these days! It does automatic bathymetric mapping and everything and all that for under $1000! This, more than the drone technology, really excited me for small scale underwater archaeology surveys.

Side scan sonar used to be the preserve of well funded operations towing big expensive units behind expensive motorised boats.


that’s all true! the Garmin in my fishing boat has side scan sonar and it does a heck of a job showing detailed bottom features. there are a whole lot of shipwrecks on and around the reef here and they are great structure for fish to congregate and get really big; grouper, mutton snapper and more. most are well known and coordinates readily available, but what is cool is seeing the structures outlined on the screen. it may not be able to identify individual fish, but large schools do show up and that’s a good place to start fishing!


Do you happen to know whether it is possible to export the collected data in common formats? Geo-referenced side scan images and depth maps that can be used in a geographic information system would be pretty cool but from the little research I have just done the manufacturers only mention saving the data in their own software and cloud solutions.


it’s pretty much proprietary format. there is a dedicated 32gig SD card to store my own chartplotting, waypoints and contour mapping. nav charts are updated and sold (after your initial 2 year free updates) in the Garmin prop. format.
I do not know if it can be exported as more open format files.
edit to remain on topic: if you consider a shipwreck to dive or fish on treasure, then this device fits the bill. not autonomous, however.

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I don’t think this is too off topic. What we’re discussing is basically what to do with the data once it has been collected by the method in the video.

Anyway, thanks for the answer. That’s pretty much what I was expecting. No easy or ToS-compliant way to use these devices for science.

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There is a website for collecting and displaying water depth data.

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