A seven-meter (23-foot) long unmanned surface vehicle (USV) known as SD 1021 has become the first autonomous vehicle to complete an east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
SD 1021 departed Lymington, UK, on August 15, 2019, to sail a direct route across the North Atlantic, completing the crossing on October 22, 2019, in Newport, Rhode Island. The 3402-nautical mile (6301.59-kilometer) crossing took 68 days.
SD 1021 originally started its Atlantic adventure from Newport in January 2019, on a science mission measuring heat and carbon in the Gulf Stream.
Stopping in Bermuda for maintenance, SD 1021 then sailed on, following the Gulf stream, to Europe, landing in the Solent on the south coast of England. After the return journey back to Newport, SD 1021 not only holds the record for the fastest unmanned Atlantic crossing but is the only unmanned surface technology to have completed a crossing in both directions.
“The endurance, reliability and scientific measurement capabilities of the Saildrone platform continue to grow from strength to strength,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO. “During 2019, our saildrones have circumnavigated Antarctica, spent 700 days in the Arctic sampling the retreating ice edge, completed our first survey of the North Sea, and now crossed the hostile North Atlantic in both directions. There is no part of the unfrozen ocean that we cannot now measure.”