Last week, (Thursday 20th April, 2017) we welcomed Mark Garnier MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, to open our state of the art Mission Control Centre at our base in Portchester, UK.
This new centre will be the hub for the ongoing development of our market leading ASView® autonomous vessel control system. Not only will the centre be capable of operating and monitoring our fleet of ‘ASVs’ all over the world using satellite communication links but will also be used for operator training and simulation exercises.
The occasion saw the very first operation take place from our newly opened facility. Demonstrating our operational capability we controlled one of our ASVs in the Solent over a 4G network as it operated in a supervised unmanned mode, a mode representative of current and future commercial operations. The boat autonomously ran a pre-defined mission while being supervised by remote operator Rob Clark from Mission Control.
The array of sensors fitted on the ASV, among which were the newly developed ‘Camera Box’ ensured Rob had sufficient situational awareness by providing him with an uninterrupted 360° optical lookout in both the visible and IR spectrum. Safe navigation and, in particular, man-in-the loop collision avoidance was ensured.
We demonstrated our simulation capability by running our Advanced USV simulator. In September 2016, we signed a licencing agreement with The Ministry of Defence allowing for the use of the Advanced Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) Capability technology developed using funding via Dstl. Using the funding we were able to demonstrate advanced autonomous navigation at the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise in October 2016 and more recently in the Solent. This technology has now been integrated with the Innovate UK project developments within Mission Control.
The Mission Control Centre has been partly funded under Innovate UK funding awarded to the company in 2015 under a project called ‘Unmanned Safe Maritime Operations Over The Horizon’ which tasked our team of autonomous system engineers to research and develop both the technology and the regulatory requirements of operating autonomous vessels over the horizon.
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