Martek Marine has announced that it has been awarded a 2-year Remotely Piloted Aircraft Services (RPAS) contract from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). Martek claims that this is the largest ever maritime drone contract.
Part of a five-year EMSA strategy of improving coastguard monitoring and surveillance of maritime activity, the service provision from Martek not only includes the unmanned aircraft but also the pilots, long-range antennae, mission control vehicles and ground crew. Video and drone sensor data will be streamed live to a control centre, to allow EU Member States to make prompt decisions on intervention actions.
The RPAS will be used to perform beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and will assist with border control activities, search & rescue operations and monitoring of pollution, as well as the detection of illegal fishing and drug and people trafficking.
A typical surveillance task involves the deployment of a drone from the deck of a ship to a specified area of interest. The drone then collects requested surveillance information before sending it, in addition to payload data, to the users.
The drones chosen for the EMSA contract are of compact design, making them extremely manoeuvrable in addition to having the ability to start and land vertically from both shore and vessels. Focusing on short range operations, the drones will be equipped with state-of-the-art sensors designed for maritime surveillance. In order to operate effectively in harsh maritime environments, technology has been developed to allow the drones to withstand storm force wind and heavy rain, snow and salt spray.
Paul Luen, Martek Group CEO, said: “This contract sets us up for major expansion as THE maritime drone experts. More world firsts will be delivered by us in this exciting technology field during 2017, as we launch further disruptive drone services.”