Unmanned and Autonomous systems are still a relatively new area of marine technology and as such are the subject of ongoing research and development which continue to push the boundaries of the technology.
Since the company began we have undertaken a variety of funded and part funded research and development programmes including feasibility and market studies, prototype design, development and production and exploring new applications.
We are currently participating in a number of live R&D programmes which cover topics such as software and communications, operations and regulations, autonomous vehicle interaction and vehicle launch and recovery.
In undertaking these programmes we regularly collaborate with other commercial organisations as well as universities and research institutions. To date we have worked with Cranfield University, The University of Portsmouth, the National Oceanography Centre and Southampton University. Our commercial partners include SeeByte, Sonardyne, Thales UK, and Planet Ocean amongst others.
Recent examples of our involvement in R&D projects:
Defence Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) with Dstl
We are currently developing the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) under research funding from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Its purpose is to provide a testbed to host a range of new technologies to allow the Ministry of Defence to test and evolve tactics for employing maritime autonomous systems.
The 32ft MAST was one of over 40 Autonomous Systems to take part in Unmanned Warrior 2016 off West Wales and NW Scotland and the Western Isles.
Autonomous Ocean Research Study
Along with SeeByte and the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, we were awarded funding to carry out a research project to reduce the complexity and frequency of operator input when supervising large fleets of autonomous systems from the shore.
The outcome of this project were autonomous behaviours that addressed five scenarios including oil spill, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), seabed mapping, fish tracking and tidal mixing.
The behaviours integrated sensor data and interpretation methods to enable adaptive, multi-vehicle missions using combinations of ASV, AUV and Glider assets.
Maritime Autonomy R&D Funding
In partnership with nine other commercial and research organisations, we were awarded funding by Innovate UK to undertake in excess of £3million worth of research and development for Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS).
Three separate projects are currenly underway and addressing different areas covering the wide spectrum of activities concerning Maritime Autonomous Systems. These include software and communications, operations and regulations, autonomous vehicle interaction and launch and recovery.
Investigating the Application of Autonomous Marine Technology in Offshore Wind
In association with Planet Ocean Ltd, we received funding from the GROW:OffshoreWind initiative to investigate how the use of Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs) could reduce the costs of offshore wind farm support.
The project looked at using ASVs to reduce the cost of tasks related to the construction, operation and maintenance (O&M) of offshore wind farms. Together ASV and Planet Ocean investigated scour monitoring, cable position tracking, wave and meteorological monitoring, current profile monitoring and underwater noise monitoring.
Development and Production of the C-Enduro
We received funding from Innovate UK to develop the concept for a long-endurance marine unmanned surface vehicles (LEMUSV) which could use both existing and new sensor technology to gather data from the oceans for several months at a time.
Phase 1 of the programme saw the development of the concept for the C-Enduro, a rugged self-righting vehicle that uses solar panels, a wind generator and a lightweight diesel generator as energy sources to keep the vessel at sea for up to three months.
The success of this concept phase led us onto to phase 2 where we were awarded £390,000 to build the prototype.
In November 2013 we launched the prototype C-Enduro for the first time in the Solent for initial trials and testing. Within three months of officially launching the C-Enduro, we received two orders, one from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and another from Heriot-Watt University.
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