VESSEL REFIT | USV Dart – UK’s South Devon College to utilise drone for maritime training purposes

Photo: HydroSurv

The UK’s South Devon College has acquired an uncrewed surface vessel (USV) that will give marine autonomy students at its new Marine Academy hands-on experience in remote vessel operation.

The catamaran USV, named USV Dart, was built by Exeter-based HydroSurv Unmanned Survey for research collaborations and demonstrations. HydroSurv has since refitted and upgraded the fully-electric craft along with a smaller USV for use by future students at the academy. Operations of the USVs will be at the River Dart, located just off the academy’s workshops and classrooms.

David Hull, founder and CEO of HydroSurv said both USVs were originally developed, tested, and demonstrated within industrial research projects. The projects focused on platform design, core technology development, and industrial showcasing through a series of real-world demonstrations to end-users, equipment manufacturers. and academia.

Photo: HydroSurv

The larger USV chosen for refit by HydroSurv is of a multi-purpose design that was developed primarily for operation in inland and coastal waters. Duties initially included hydrographic, geophysical, and environmental surveys.

USV Dart has a length of 1.59 metres, a beam of 1.17 metres, a height of 1.15 metres, and an empty displacement of only 60 kilograms, making the craft itself highly portable and easily deployable. The twin hulls are made from durable linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and are double-skinned so that breaches will not lead to flooding of the USV’s internal compartments.

The vessel features twin steerable Torqeedo electric outboard engines that provide precise slow-speed control and station keeping as well as excellent endurance from separated 915Wh propulsion batteries. An independent service battery system consists of “hot-swappable” 24vDC batteries to further improve the flexibility and integrity levels of the vehicle. The Torqeedo outboards are capable of low-noise operation and are fitted with propellers that can cut through weeds.

The USV retains full survey capability thanks to the installation of an acoustic Doppler current profiler from Nortek. This enables the craft to obtain high-quality data for estuarine flow mapping and discharge measurements. Other sensors payloads may also be carried depending on operator requirements.

Click here for more news stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on unmanned craft.

USV Dart
Type of vessel:USV – Survey and training
Owner:South Devon College, UK
Builder:HydroSurv Unmanned Survey, UK
Hull construction material:Polyethylene
Length overall:1.59 metres
Beam:1.17 metres
Displacement:60 kilograms
Main engines:2 x Torqeedo outboards
Batteries:915 Wh
Other electronics:Nortek acoustic Doppler current profiler

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