A huge leap in vessel autonomy development was made in the Middle East on what could be the first of a fleet of unmanned survey vessels
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Uni-Cat vessel was developed by Unique Group for unmanned surveys in shallow waters.
Unique Group director for business development Sharad Kumar, told Maritime Digitalisation & Communications the first Uni-Cat was developed and tested in different port environments at the Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East conference in Dubai, UAE.
Unique had developed the design and integrated autonomous sensor and communications technology.
“We had run beta tests and run physical surveys with multiple sensors,” he said.
This is a 4.8-m catamaran with two outboard 24 VDC electric engines that propel the vessel to 7 knots free running and 3-4 knots during surveys.
Uni-Cat has a MAP Pro autopilot and electric remote twin steering and two lithium-ion battery packs to power the engines and onboard sensors.
Unique can remotely control the vessel from the shore side using a system that includes a computer with Intel I5 processor and 1 TB solid-state hard disk.
Data telemetry is through a dual-frequency 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio modem and 4G LTE system. Uni-Cat has a camera, GPS sensor and autonomous navigation software.
“Applications for Uni-Cat include oceanography and seabed monitoring, bathymetry surveys, search and rescue operations, salvage and inspections,” said Dr Kumar.
Unique Group tested its survey capabilities in shipping channels, ports and coastal areas of the UAE.
This vessel has Simrad 4G radar and Kongsberg multibeam survey technology. More sensors can be added for other applications on future Uni-Cats.
“More payload can be added, more sensors included for different applications, such as inspections,” said Dr Kumar.