Autonomous Vehicle Makes Waves on Lake Michigan

Wednesday July 31st, 2019 TAGS: , , ,

Last month (June 2019), The Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University took to Lake Michigan with L3Harris to explore the capabilities of Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) technology.

The C-Worker 5 was demonstrated at the 2019 Leadership Summit of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to showcase the benefits of using ASVs in tasks that fall into the “three Ds”: dirty, dangerous, and dull.

With permission from the coastguard to operate in ‘supervised autonomy’ mode, the demonstration highlighted how the Great Lakes Region could use ASVs to complete tasks such as survey work or oil spill containment.

L3Harris’ Andrew Ziegwied commented that “using ASVs for survey work can allow operators to map twice the area, in half the time, significantly reducing operational costs”.

The demonstration was attended by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers who in an interview with WUWM, said that he could eventually see autonomous research vessels operating in the Midwest.

“For example, mapping the Great Lakes. Think of how important that is to the state of Wisconsin, and be able to do that at much lower cost, and more accuracy. That’s a good thing. Technology’s going to march on, so let’s find good ways to use it,” Evers added.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was also in attendance and took the helm to try out the remote-control capability first hand.


(Image credit: WUWM)

The Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University isn’t the only US research institution interested in exploring the capabilities autonomy. In 2016, L3Harris delivered a C-Worker 4 to University of New Hampshire to explore the use of autonomy for charting surveys in the Arctic regions. Currently, the boat is supporting ongoing exploration and management of shipwrecks in Lake Huron.

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