The Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, commonly known as INGV, is tasked with researching geophysical and volcanological phenomena and overseeing the national monitoring networks for seismic and volcanic events.

INGV approached EdgeLab to develop an Unmanned Vehicle specifically designed for shallow waters (0-3 meters). The sea-surface catamaran can operate in both assisted mode (with an operator) and complete autonomous mode. Characterized by its compact dimensions, very low draft, and total electric propulsion system, the catamaran is adept at exploring shallow waters, ensuring zero CO2 emissions and minimal acoustic noise. The 2.4/5GHZ communication link permits to control (in assisted mode) the vessel up to 2 kilometers away.

The USV_Cat features a navigation camera paired to a downward-looking subsea camera, an echo sounder and a side scan sonar. Additional payloads, such as a magnetometer and a multibeam, can be incorporated.

Potential applications include:

  • Monitoring underwater volcanic activity (i.e. gas exhalation) safely for operators;
  • Conducting biological mapping to assess seabed biodiversity and water quality;
  • Evaluating and quantifying the accumulation of micro/macro plastics using acoustic mapping.

As an electric vehicle, it can be deployed in natural parks and marine protected areas. It can also be used to evaluate erosion phenomena to help predict and prevent seabed slides.