VESSEL REVIEW | VO:X Metiri – Ultra-quiet autonomous survey craft for Van Oord

UNMANNED CRAFT WEEK
Photo: Van Oord

A new unmanned surface vehicle (USV) that was recently added to the inspection fleet of Dutch marine contractor Van Oord is a locally built craft powered by electric engines that also generate low noise levels, allowing the collection of survey data without disturbing the local wildlife in the areas where it is deployed.

Named VO:X Metiri, the 2.5-metre-long, shallow-draught USV was built by Demcon Unmanned Systems to satisfy Van Oord’s requirement for a craft that can collect survey data while guaranteeing lower costs and increased safety. The vessel therefore features an autonomous navigation system to reduce dependence on human operators, an advanced steering system that provides better manoeuvrability compared to similar-sized unmanned craft, and lower maintenance requirements.

The USV is fitted with Demcon’s patented dynamic positioning system. The modular construction of the craft itself allows various combinations of mission-specific payloads to be incorporated without the need to make any drastic changes to the hull. The selection of available payloads also includes a small moonpool and a LIDAR-based collision avoidance system that provides 360 degrees of coverage.

Photo: Demcon

Demcon managing director Fedor Ester said the new vessel was developed in-house and in close cooperation with Van Oord’s engineers. The cooperation between the two companies covered everything from design and engineering to final project execution, thus ensuring the USV possessed the degree of operational flexibility required by its owners.

Because the all-electric propulsion generates significantly reduced emissions, it is possible to safely operate the USV in select environmentally sensitive areas such as drinking water basins. The propulsion also ensures continuous sailing and surveying of up to eight hours on a single full charge.

The craft’s compact size meanwhile enables it to operate in areas that a traditional survey vessel cannot access. It also allows multiple uses within a week, which Van Oord surveyor Frank Reynhour said will help provide project crews and clients with relevant measuring data in a more efficient way.

VO:X Metiri‘s initial deployments since its delivery in 2020 were in two areas in the Netherlands, namely, in the River Rotte and in the basin in the Spaanse polder for the A16 motorway project in Rotterdam. Van Oord said the successful employment of the USV on these two projects prompted the company to place an order for a second USV from the same series. However, unlike the earlier USV, the newer craft will not be limited to inland waters but will be modified to be capable of operation in coastal and nearshore areas as well.

Photo: Van Oord

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VO:X Metiri
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:USV – Inspection and survey
Flag:Netherlands
Owner:Van Oord, Netherlands
Builder:Demcon Unmanned Systems, Netherlands
Length overall:2.5 metres
Dynamic positioning:Demcon Unmanned Systems
Other electronics:Collision avoidance system
Other equipment installed:Moonpool
Type of fuel:Battery power

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