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Robotic fleet captures trove of Broadkill data in mapping bootcamp

With tropical storms starting to rev up in the Atlantic Ocean, the timing of the University of Delaware's Autonomous Systems Bootcamp was ideal and experts from UD and around the world converged at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes to make the most of it. The mission of the weeklong deployment was straightforward: Develop a detailed, baseline profile of a 5-square-kilometer area of Broadkill Beach, focusing on a recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging and replenishment program where scientists could see – in close proximity – both a natural beach and a replenished beach.

The area had not been surveyed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for more than 40 years, according to UD oceanographer Art Trembanis, and this work – with so many skilled hands on duty – would accomplish in one week what it might otherwise take months or years to do.

Capturing such a profile just before a major storm is a great plus from a researcher's perspective. That fresh data showing how conditions were before the storm offers many opportunities to learn how storms affect coastlines and underwater landscapes after it.

In addition to that scientific trove, the convergence of expertise at the bootcamp offered each participant a practical demonstration of the technology available and how layers of data can be correlated and used to analyze conditions and build better plans.