An autonomous surface vessel will carry out hydrographic surveys of a northern European sea after a key industry retrofit
Dutch survey group Deep BV will upgrade one of its vessels with autonomous control systems to remotely complete a survey of the Wadden Sea, north of the Netherlands.
Deep selected the SM300 autonomous command and advanced perception technology from US-based Sea Machines Robotics to retrofit on its survey vessel.
This will facilitate remote control of the vessel, including navigation and positioning, and control onboard auxiliaries and sensors.
Network connectivity for ship-to-shore data flow will then enable this vessel to be commanded by personnel in Amsterdam for the Wadden Sea survey.
Deep chief commercial officer Jurgen Beerens said remote control of the vessel will improve safety and introduce more flexibility of operations. “With Sea Machines integrated on our vessel, we will soon begin to transfer tasks from the vessel to the safe working environment of the office,” he said.
Mr Beerens expects more applications will come from having autonomous survey capabilities.
“The purpose of our survey control room is to offer our clients many possibilities like ad hoc surveys, simultaneous conducted surveys operated by only one survey crew, and multi-purpose use of vessels already available in the field,” he said.
“Besides these unparalleled flexibility advantages, it offers a time-saving option to increase efficiency and control costs towards a more sustainable future,” Mr Beerens adds.
“As well as improving safety, we will gain flexibility, continuity and quality, and we will reduce risks and our carbon footprint.”
For the Wadden Sea survey, Deep will have no surveyors on board the vessel. Its operators will command and control the autonomous vessel and all onboard payloads, including survey sonars, hydrophones, winches, cranes and davits, from its shoreside survey control centre.
This vessel has been equipped to conduct several multi-beam surveys simultaneously with Simrad radar from Navico.
Deep will then transfer all collected data from the vessel to the control room via 4G and satellite connections.
Its contract with Sea Machines follows early survey missions with surveyors remotely controlling surveys on a vessel manned with a captain and crew.
This trial used the SIMON remote survey platform for marine data acquisition and equipment control.
In September 2019, Deep was the first company to conduct remote surveys without surveyors on board in the Netherlands
Sea Machines chief executive Michael G Johnson said hydrographic survey “is an exemplary use case for our autonomous-command and remote-helm control technologies”.
“Deep will benefit from obtaining higher-quality data, more safely and at a more efficient rate with less data overlap,” Mr Johnson said.
Autonomous vessel technology will be discussed during Riviera Maritime Media’s series of webinars over Q2 and Q3 2020, for more details of the programme click here