Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs) are now in application across almost every sector of the maritime industry including energy, science and research and defence. With 2017 seeing the first unmanned vessel signed to the flag for the UK Ship Register, greater adoption in offshore energy survey operations and defence, it is clear to see that the adoption of autonomous technology, particularly in regard to surface platforms, will continue to grow.
ASVs have been used in a range of roles to support offshore operations in applications such as construction support and survey. Models such as the C-Enduro, C-Worker 6 and C-Worker 7 have been used to carry our tasks including subsea positioning, surveying and environmental monitoring.
With the windfarm sector displaying an interest in this innovative technology, ASV Global as part of a consortium with the University of Portsmouth, and ORE Catapult have come together for a project, funded by Innovate UK, that will focus on overcoming challenges the offshore windfarm industry faces and how the use of autonomous systems can help to provide solutions. The aim is to reduce the cost of energy, reduce health and safety risks and explore other areas such as utilising ASVs for offshore parts supply, offshore security and asset surveillance, e.g. inspections of foundations, cables, seabed; and crew transfer.
It is estimated that only 5% of the world’s oceans are mapped. Recently, however, the scientific community has set itself the ambitious goal of correcting this anomaly. Part of this lack of data is due to some areas of our waters being difficult or dangerous to access with a traditional manned survey platform, particularly in coastal areas and shallow waters.
ASV Global’s C-Cat 3 has been developed to complement the existing ocean-going vehicles for survey and support tasks where a smaller vehicle is better suited to missions. The shallow draft and small size of the vehicle enables deployment shallow and confined waters and its modular construction facilitates the fitting of a range of scientific above and below water payloads.
C-Cat 3 has been used to support a range of inland and inshore surveys in areas such as ports, harbours, rivers and lakes will even be utilised for bridge survey aid.
The defence sector has been utilising ASVs for over a decade with further adoption likely to be seen in applications such as mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and weapons testing and training.
Target drones such as the C-Target range have been used by a range of national and international defence agencies and primes for weapons testing and training in order to reduce health and safety risks and provide comprehensive threat simulation. Rather than be constrained by traditional warfare areas and disciplines, ASV’s can be employed in various scenarios to do the dangerous, dull and dirty work with greater efficiency. The dull parts such as border surveillance can be done by ASV’s with greater persistence and lower cost from traditional methods and the dangerous parts such as mine warfare clearance can save lives providing the defence sector with greater efficiency while keeping personnel out of harm’s way.
With major companies taking an interest in autonomous technology and beginning their own programmes, and organisations in both the commercial and military sphere desperate to maximise efficiencies, it seems only natural that over the coming year there will be an increase in the adoption of ASVs for a range of operations and applications. After all, ASVs reduce risks and cost while providing an innovative solution to challenges at sea.
After completing a BA English degree at the University of Southampton, Natalie Fordham joined ASV Global as the Sales & Marketing Assistant. The Sales & Marketing team is at the forefront of bringing ASV Global’s autonomous vessel technology to the maritime industry.
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