An Autonomous, 3D Printed, Waterjet-Powered, Open-Source Robotic Trimaran for Environmental Inspection and Monitoring

Versatile, autonomous robotic boats can offer excellent environmental inspection and monitoring solutions for remote, dangerous, hard to reach, or access protected water bodies. This paper introduces such a platform in the form of an autonomous, cost-effective, waterjet-powered robotic trimaran. Motivated by the need for an efficient aquatic monitoring, particularly in Aotearoa – New Zealand’s diverse environments, the trimaran provides an efficient, low-cost, and easy to replicate alternative to resource-intensive research vessels. The proposed platform, costs $600-1,500 USD to develop (depending on the sensing system configuration), weighs under 5 kg, and excels in bathymetry and water quality testing. The trimaran can reach speeds of up to 2 m/s offering obstacle avoidance of natural features, such as rocks. Utilizing off-the-shelf components and 3D printing technology, the proposed platform offers excellent reproducibility and robustness while operating in shallow waters with its jet propulsion system. The paper presents in detail the design characteristics, the sensing system employed, testing results focusing on bathymetry, and highlights the ability of vessel and the potential for future research and data collection.

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