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Autonomous surface vehicle boat collects data on Lake O

Crews use new technology to test algae on Lake O. (WPEC)

A self-driving sailboat. It's the latest technology being used to battle algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

The FAU project started about 3 years ago along the west coast of Florida to study the causes of red tide.

Now the focus is on Lake Okeechobee.

Dr. Jordon Beckler from FAU Harbor Branch Campus is using the first autonomous sail powered surface vehicle to monitor algae blooms.

It’s collecting information about the blooms on Lake Okeechobee to understand the environmental conditions that lead to their formation.

“If we see a bloom pop up all of a sudden we can immobilize our troops, take some samples,” said Beckler. “We then collect them and bring them back to the lab and run a suite of analysis to better try to understand the bloom.”

The autonomous surface vehicle boat also collects other data which includes the salinity and temperature of the water. All this information gives researchers clues as to why the blooms are forming.

Beckler says the boat is totally solar powered and is able to collect information every 10 seconds.

The price tag is $75,000 but the data is priceless.

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