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Technical Developments

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    Dr. Ralf Bachmayer Memorial University

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    Dr. Brad deYoung Memorial University

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    Dr. Mae Seto Dalhousie University

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    Dr. Doug Wallace MEOPAR

Modifying the Canadian Autonomous Surface Vehicle, DORADO, into a platform for conducting rapid surveys of the marine environment. Developing and testing a tethered profiler for deployment at marine emergency sites.

DORADO Autonomous Vehicle Development
Dr. Wallace and his team are working on modifying the existing Canadian Autonomous Surface Vehicle, DORADO, presently used for mine countermeasures, into a platform for conducting rapid surveys of the marine environment. ​The DORADO vehicle is a unique vehicle that fits a niche not occupied by any other form of autonomous vehicle: it is fast (up to 16 knots), capable of carrying large payloads, extremely stable and has a winch suited to deployment of profiling and towed packages.

The activity has the goal to adapt DORADO to be capable of use in a planned tracer dispersion study in which a benign, chemical tracer, capable of being detected to very low concentration levels, will be introduced and tracked using the DORADO vehicle. The experiment will allow testing of models, such as MEOPAR’s relocatable model, that are designed for emergency response.

So far, the project has:

  • Designed a novel, miniature gas chromatograph capable of installation inside the vehicle for detection of the tracer
  • Installed and integrated a flow-through sensor measurement system for mapping of near-surface properties such as temperature, salinity, pCO2, O2, chlorophyll, etc. as well as the tracer concentration.
  • Tested at ISE Ltd’s facility in British Columbia. 

The DORADO project team are preparing to use the AUV in an experiment to examine tracer dispersion in the vicinity of Halifax, with comparison/ verification of MEOPAR models in late 2016.

The activity is being conducted in very close cooperation with International Submarine Engineering Ltd. of Port Coquitlam, BC: Canada’s premier manufacturer of underwater vehicles. The project is also collaborating with Defence Research and Development Canada and supports MEOPAR’s re-locatable coupled atmosphere-ocean prediction system project (Project 1.1). 

Tethered Float Development
Dr. deYoung and his team are developing and testing a tethered profiler for deployment at marine emergency sites to support the re-locatable model (Project 1.1). 

Working with the APEX profiler, an autonomous drifting profiler used to measure subsurface currents and make profile measurements, the team has developed an Autonomous Underwater Moored Profiler to tether APEX to a fixed mooring so it can move vertically and gather data without drifting away from the site altogether. This profiler uses a buoyancy engine and has an antenna system attached to the instrument package that allows real time communication for transmission of data and control of the system.

The development of this profiler will greatly enhance the ability to make real-time measurements in coastal waters at an affordable price.


  • Defence Research and Development Canada
  • Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)
  • Pro-Oceanus Inc.
  • International Submarine Engineering Limited


  • Diego Ibarra Dalhousie University
  • Chris L'Esperance Dalhousie University
  • Joe Singleton Memorial University of Newfoundland


  • Wallace,Doug,. 2014, Application and Assessment of the Membrane-based ProOceans CO2 (pCO2) Under Field and Laboratory Conditions, L$O: Methods,
  • Bachmayer,Ralf,Singleton,Joe ,deYoung,Brad,. 2014, Development of an Autonomous Underwater Moored Profilers, IEEE Oceans '14,
  • Ibarra,Diego ,Wallace,Doug,. 2013, A New Portal for Real-time Ocean Conditions, Forecasts and `Citizen Ocean Science`., Hook, Line and Thinker - The Newsletter of the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society, 4:4-5,
  • Cullen,Jay,Fennel,Katja,Ibarra,Diego ,. 2014, Coupling 3D Eulerian bio-physics (ROMS) with individual-based shellfish ecophysiology (SHELL-E): A hybrid model for carrying capacity and environmental impacts of bivalve aquaculture, Ecological Modelling, 732-63-78,
  • Cullen,Jay,Fennel,Katja,Ibarra,Diego ,. 2015, Two-way Coupling of Sessile Macrobiota and Planktonic Dynamics in Shallow Embayments Using a Hybrid (IBM/Eulerian) End-to-end Model, Ecological Modelling,

DORADO Autonomous Vehicle Development

The project builds on unique Canadian vehicle and sensor technology and addresses MEOPAR’s long-term strategic objective of fundamental research (related to the observation and prediction of dispersion of contaminants within the ocean).

It also involves private sector participation, and contributes to MEOPAR’s 5-year objective to: “Develop new tools and technologies for rapid environmental assessment and forecasting during marine environmental emergencies.”