US unmanned systems manufacturer SeaRobotics has been awarded a contract to build a new long-endurance autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) for the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, popularly known as the Marine Institute.
The eight-metre, self-righting craft will be designed to enhance the institute’s training and research program in ocean mapping, observation, and characterisation.
The ASV will feature a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system to allow for a quieter operating mode needed for acoustic research. It will also be fitted with collision avoidance technology, GPS navigation, and customisable levels of autonomy based on mission requirements.
SeaRobotics said the autonomy levels will range from remote control (no intelligence/operator in the loop), basic (minimal intelligence), mature (crewed oversight), and advanced autonomy (operator out of the loop/full automatic mission implementation). While in the field, the Marine Institute will track and monitor the ASV from a shore-based command centre as it continuously collects ocean data during its non-stop 14-day missions.
The ASV will be equipped to handle a wide range of payloads and can be outfitted with a variety of interchangeable sensors and sonars, including a multi-beam echosounder for 3D seafloor mapping.
Delivery is scheduled for the spring of 2022.
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