Martek Marine has gained a position on a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) research project covering remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) for maritime applications. The drone developed from the project will be designed for monitoring ship emissions and marine pollution.
Through this project, EMSA intends to develop remotely piloted aircraft to help European Union member states meet Council Directive 1999/32/EC that covers the rules concerning the sampling and reporting of marine fuels for sulphur content, and the monitoring of sulphur oxide emissions from ships. Data from sensors on RPAS units can be incorporated with existing information for member states to comply with the directive requirements.
EMSA will organise and provide, as an institutional service provider, pilot RPAS service operations to support member states. Martek has been awarded one of a number of framework contracts launched by EMSA to develop drones for maritime applications. Martek will develop drones that can sample gases from a vessel’s emissions plume by using a sophisticated payload of electro optical, infra-red imaging, gas emission sensors as well as detecting the vessel’s AIS signature.
Each RPAS will have a range of 50km from the ground station and will have an onboard video camera that streams images back to EU member states. It will also have an onboard gas analyser that draws samples of air to measure SOx, NOx and CO2 levels, so member states can determine possible breaches of EU law regarding the sulphur content of a ship’s fuel.
Martek is developing methods of incorporating command and control and payload data streaming over satellite so the drone can operate beyond radio line-of-sight capabilities. Martek chief executive Paul Luen said the drone would need to withstand storm force winds and heavy rain, snow and salt spray to operate effectively in marine conditions.