Navigating sea mines, challenging pirates, conducting scientific research, difficult search and rescue. These are just some of the scenarios where an Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) can perform critical tasks without putting sailors in harm’s way.
“USVs are an excellent complement to manned systems, allowing their operators to do dull, dirty and dangerous jobs from a place of safety,” says Dr Derek Rogers, HHead of Saab’s Global Centre of Excellence in Autonomous Vessels.
Dr Rogers is presenting a paper on the integration of USVs with naval systems and operations on Thursday 8 October at Pacific 2015.
Says Dr Rogers, “at the USV’s core is the mission system or its ‘brain’, where information from sensors such as radars, sonars, cameras, AIS and GPS integrate and are used to safely navigate and perform mission tasks".
Connected to the mission system, an operator either directly commands and monitors the USV or pre-programs it or allows it to perform autonomously in the most challenging circumstances, without risking the operator’s and other’s lives.
Given their capabilities, it is little wonder that many have identified USVs as a multi-billion dollar growth industry. Yet despite the opportunity, few unmanned vessels have had commercial success so far, largely because of their bespoke nature and limited integration with wider naval operations and systems.
“We’re keen to change that,” says Dr Rogers. “Last year, we unveiled the Bonefish™ concept that takes a revolutionary approach to USV Mission Systems.”
Bonefish™ offers reliability and flexibility at low-costs and is future-proofed as well. It meets existing maritime regulations, and can be applied to all types of vessels, including trimarans, catamarans and monostable hulls as required for the operational need
Since unveiling a Bonefish™ trimaran concept last year, Saab’s Global Centre of Excellence in Autonomous Vessels, in Adelaide, has successfully integrated the USV Mission System with Saab’s latest generation of the 9LV combat management system. Saab’s 9LV is used by navies across the world on surface and subsurface vessels for anti-piracy, security and surveillance missions.However just like the open architecture of 9LV, Saab’s Bonefish™ USV Mission System can also integrate with an sufficiently open Combat Management System.
At Pacific 2015 Saab’s team will be showcasing the integration of the Bonefish USV Mission System with the latest 9LV in the context of a Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) platform; a good option for dual use and for navies to experiment with to become familiar with the next generation of technology.
“Bonefish™ has attracted strong interest from various sectors including defence, security and the fishing industry, so we are actively working towards its commercial success,” says Dr Rogers.