Marine-i supports two USV ventures in Cornwall
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i is a collaborative project providing the infrastructure, expertise and support to enable marine technology innovation in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.
It recently awarded a grant to Ultrabeam Hydrographic, a new company providing very high resolution hydrographic solutions for clients with marine-based assets such as bridge structures, quay walls and harbours, subsea pipelines and cables, offshore renewable energy installations and oil and gas platforms.
Developed by Ultrabeam, the Ultra-USV unmanned surface vessel (USV) is a 3m catamaran designed to gather fast, accurate and highly-detailed survey data in challenging locations. Believed to be the first of its kind, in addition to carrying a full suite of high-end survey equipment, the compact USV is powered by four electric thrusters in a vectored thrust layout. This configuration enables it to make very precisely-controlled movements in any direction, in a manner similar to that of an aerial drone.
Marine-i's support will enable Ultrabeam to proceed with a fully-engineered prototype and extensive sea trials, with a view to bringing the Ultra-USV to market by the end of 2018.
Unmanned Survey Solutions' (USS) next generation USV, the Accession Class, has also been given the go-ahead thanks to backing from Marine-i's Marine Challenge Fund.
Cornwall-based USS has already introduced the Inception Class Mark 1 and Mark 2 vehicles to the shallow coastal and inland waters survey market. The Accession Class will be a robust autonomous multi-role USV with integrated airborne drone capabilities. The naval architect designed 4.5m vessel is intended for use in the offshore and renewables sectors and will be capable of long-endurance operations in open ocean. It will work as a force multiplier with a mother vessel and will integrate increased payloads to enable launch and recovery of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
Applications for the Accession Class USV may include multibeam echo sounder seabed surveys and UAV-based turbine inspections in support of offshore wind farms, combined use of the USV and UAV capabilities for environmental mapping of inter-tidal areas and fisheries enforcement operations and marine mammal monitoring.
By Helen Atkinson
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