Application: Advanced Autonomy
Vehicle: Pacific 950 RIB
Customer: Deltares, Rijkswaterstaat, The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Netherlands Coastguard
Payload: Advanced Autonomy programme, Navigation radar, an electro-imaging pan-tilt-zoom camera with standard optical and thermal displays. 360 degree panoramic infrared camera.
Summary: ASV Global demonstrated its ‘ASView’ advanced autonomous navigation system onboard the unmanned Pacific 950 RIB near Den Helder for Deltares to showcase this system for Rijkswaterstaat, The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
Benefit: Demonstrating the level of autonomy commercially available for further adoption of marine autonomous systems, in particular, autonomous surface vehicles.
The Pacific 950 RIB (P950) was equipped with ASV Global’s advanced autonomy system to demonstrate the system’s capability at high speeds. ASView is ASV Global’s proprietary autonomous control system and the advanced autonomy is an additional capability for this. The vessel demonstrated that the system adapts to high pressure situations, adapting and changing course, including when being pursued head on by a potential threat where a collision would likely be possible. This was demonstrated with the use of the manned Netherlands Marine Corps FRISC.
The mission successfully demonstrated the level of autonomy commercially available that Deltares would like to utilise in the North Sea, near the Netherlands, for Rijkswaterstaat, The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
P950 was road transported to the Netherlands via lorry from ASV Global’s UK headquarters after handover from BAE Systems. BAE Systems loaned ASV Global the P950 for the demonstration, which was converted to unmanned in partnership in 2015. The vehicle was crane launched dockside in Den Helder and operated and monitored from a 63m support vessel, Zirfaea where a Cobham radio link and UHF were used for communication.
When transporting from dockside to the demonstration area, the P950 was driven in its traditional manned mode. The ASView-Helm remote controller was then used to control the vehicle from Zirfaea when retrieving personnel from the vessel and manoeuvring the boat into position to begin advanced autonomy operations and collision scenarios where the ASView autonomous control system would take over.
The vehicles operated in the waters between Den Helder and Noorderhaaks in the Netherlands with a maximum speed of 25 knots during the mission which ran across 3 days.
The vehicle was operated autonomously throughout the mission using the control system user interface, ASView-Bridge, demonstrating the different elements that make up ASV Global’s Advanced Autonomy including the Route Planner, the Path Planner, the Trajectory Planner and the Last Response.
Potential threat scenarios were demonstrated with the system by using a manned Netherlands Marine Corps Fast Raiding, Interception and Special Forces Craft (FRISC) to replicate different types of real world collision scenarios. The FRISC was also used along with Zifraea to demonstrate the P950’s detection and avoidance capability using Radar and AIS.
The P950 demonstrated automated manoeuvres for real world collision scenarios including being overtaken, a head on collision and multiple vehicles on an opposing course.
During the overtaking collision scenario, the P950 demonstrated that if the FRISC does not do so at an appropriate distance, it will safely alter and restore its own course accordingly, despite being the stand-on vessel.
For the head on collision scenario, the P950 will act as a normal manned vessel would and alter its course to starboard, passing port-to-port with the approaching vessel.
In order to avoid collision with multiple vehicles on a reciprocal course, the P950 identified which vessel it must stand-on to and which it must give-way to and acts accordingly, acting within a safe distance of multiple vessels through continual tracking and reacting accordingly: when to continue its course, when to alter, and even when to cut out the throttle.
While the advanced autonomy system detected a possible collision some considerable time before the emergency manoeuvre situation was required and manoeuvred to avoid an emergency manoeuvre situation arising in the first place, these scenarios were forced during the demonstration by using the FRISC at high speeds to engage the P950 at short distances by remaining close to the unmanned vessel.
In 2015, ASV Global integrated its proprietary control system ASView® onto the BAE Systems Pacific 950 RIB to turn the standard vessel into a craft that has the ability to operate unmanned, autonomously and by direct remote control.
The modified P950 is capable of operating autonomously for up to 12 hours at a time on either a pre-planned route or via remote control. It can operate up to 40km away from its parent ship and reach speeds in excess of 38 knots (44 miles per hour), providing unique ship-launched manoeuvrability and enhanced situational awareness to support the decision-making of its operators.
The Advanced USV System runs directly onboard the P950 and consists of a hierarchy of decision making components sharing a common world model. Underpinning the system’s ability to operate autonomously is its complex array of sensors. The sensor suite comprises a navigation radar, an electro-imaging pan-tilt-zoom camera with standard optical and thermal displays, and a 360-degree panoramic infrared camera array which offers operators a detailed picture within a significant range of the vessel.
The demonstration successfully showcased the ASView advanced autonomous navigation system onboard the unmanned Pacific 950 RIB for Rijkswaterstaat, The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Netherlands Coastguard. This provided strong evidence for Deltares’ utilisation of the system for surveying in the North Sea region close to the Netherlands building confidence in the adoption of Autonomous Surface Vehicles for marine operations. The system and the P950 was also used at the Smart Shipping Challenge in Rotterdam following the trial with Rijkwaterstaat’s support to showcase the system to industry.
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