The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it has signed a 10-year agreement with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) to partner on ways to improve how uncrewed systems (UxS) are used to collect important ocean observation data and augment NOAA’s operational capabilities. UxS are sensor-equipped vehicles that operate autonomously or are remotely piloted. NOAA currently uses UxS for seafloor and habitat mapping, ocean exploration, marine mammal and fishery stock assessments, emergency response, and at-sea observations that improve forecasting of extreme events, such as hurricanes, harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.
“Mississippi is poised to become a major hub for ocean research and innovation, and NOAA plans to help drive that innovation,” says Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, deputy director for operations for NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and deputy director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. “This new partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi will greatly enhance our ability to transition these technologies into operational platforms that will gather critical environmental data for the nation.”
NOAA officials say that advancing partnerships with academia is essential to the development and use of new technologies. The 10-year agreement provides a framework for collaborating with NOAA scientists and UxS operators on projects to further UxS research, development and operations.