AWARDS 2022 | Best Unmanned Survey Vessel – Archie – Mythos AI

AWARDS 2022 | Best Unmanned Survey Vessel – Archie – Mythos AI


Best Unmanned Survey Vessel – Archie – Mythos AI

A remarkable little vessel, exhibiting boundless imagination and innovation. The unmanned concept that has driven the design and construction of this craft shows American enterprise at its best.

It is likely to be the forerunner of many more such unmanned survey vessels. They will certainly make the hydrographic survey task much easier.

“It is the world’s first vessel enabled by autonomy and an advanced driver assist system (ADAS) to be offered as a commercial-off-the-shelf product by a production boatbuilder,” Mythos AI co-owner Geoff Douglass told Baird Maritime. “The technology is now at a readiness level where it can be implemented at scale.”

The company added that the vessel is ideal for congested coastal and inland waterways, as the ADAS is built for working coasts, whereas today’s autonomous marine technologies are only viable for remote or offshore operations.

“For end users this vessel is incredibly efficient at bathymetric surveys. We started from scratch and digitised the logic of expert hydrographers and vessel operators. The result is a system that allows operators with little to no survey experience to collect high fidelity multibeam data.

“The best part is that the interface is cloud based. Skilled (and hard to find) hydrographers can periodically check in remotely, making it so that only a vessel operator is needed on board to acquire multibeam data. This allows more data to be collected more cost effectively than current technologies allow. The boat is a simple survey tool for ports, pilots, surveyors, dredgers, fleet operators, and authorities that depend on our inland and coastal waterways.”

Douglass said development of the vessel proceeded smoothly despite supply chain problems, and the boat was able to conduct autonomous surveys within three months of delivery.

“One reason things went smoothly is because of our partnership with the builder. Together, we ensured the Mythos stack would be as ‘bolt-on’ as possible when the vessel arrived at our facility.”

Mythos AI believes the most important trend in marine surveying is the shift to unmanned systems, especially with offshore wind accelerating the development of related technologies. There is urgent demand for acquiring frequent surveys in inshore waters whereas offshore technologies are not sophisticated enough to manage navigation or workflows in busy port environments. This led to the development of the vessel. Although initially manned, it is slated to become the first unmanned autonomous survey system for busy waterways, in line with the company’s goal.

“Currently most rules and regulations regarding autonomy are unenforceable,” Douglass added. “That said, there is a push from regulators and industry to stay ahead of it without impeding the technologies being developed. In the US, we see groups that take advantage of the lack of regulations and are putting vessels with limited capabilities in complex environments that exceed their operational limits, creating dangerous situations in the process. Because of this, we believe that regulations are necessary and inevitable.”

Mythos AI is a startup, but the company said that, since its launch at the International Workboat Show in December 2022, things have been moving fast.

“We seem to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right tech,” Douglass told Baird Maritime. “We are developing robust technologies at a blisteringly fast rate with a small team. As a result, we are receiving a lot of interest from vessel OEMs and fleet operators about adopting autonomous technology.”

The company believes autonomy will help the hydrographic industry grow exponentially. There is no lack of demand for the data inshore or offshore, but the entry to market for companies to acquire and interpret hydrographic data themselves is too high because of the workflow inefficiencies of current systems.

“We’ll see a continued push to streamline these workflows with automation. If we make surveying easier, more data will be acquired. Having more data is the key to developing resilient ports, building a sustainable future for shipping, and expediting offshore wind development.”

Commenting on the near future of the US workboat industry, Douglass said it will be characterised by massive growth as indicated by high levels of port infrastructure spending, expansion of the aquaculture and offshore renewables sectors, and shipping becoming more widespread.

“Workboats are critical infrastructure to these ocean industries, so we think the market will grow,” he told Baird Maritime. “We also think the industry will need to rely heavily on autonomy and ADAS systems to meet growth demand. The industry has a persistent workforce shortage, and so it will be increasingly challenging if not impossible for the available labour force to meet the needs of the industry.  Automation can be the solution to this.”

For a list of the 2022 “Best Of” award winners, please click here.

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