Autonomous Marine Vehicles Provided for Homeland Security

By Mike Ball / 05 Mar 2020
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Ocean Aero USV

Ocean Aero, a developer of environmentally-powered, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), has announced that it has entered into a multi-million-dollar agreement to deliver a variety of the company’s products to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) for a research, evaluation, and testing program.

Ocean Aero produces three models of 4-metre marine vehicle that all feature a retractable folding wingsail and solar panels that enable them to travel long distances. The Navigator can transform from a USV into a fully autonomous underwater vehicle, capable of submerging to 200 meters depth and using an Inertial Navigation System (INS) coupled with a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) to achieve precise underwater navigation, with propulsion coming from dual electric thrusters. The Discovery is designed to collect vertical and horizontal profile data while submerging to a maximum depth of 100 meters. The Scout is a fleet surface data collection vehicle that can submerge to the water surface level in order to provide greater protection against rough weather or decrease the detectability of the vehicle.

All of Ocean Aero’s vehicles feature rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power command, control, communications and sensor payload functions. A Launch and Recovery System (LARS), compatible with all models, can be operated from ramp, dockside or at sea. Supported by U.S. patents, Ocean Aero’s intelligent autonomous technology is ideally suited to fit the DHS S&T program’s various strategic maritime missions, which include intelligence and surveillance, marine mammal tracking, Met-Ocean data gathering and persistent situational awareness.

Ocean Aero will be providing its Navigator and Discovery models under the contract, working closely with DHS, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), The University of Southern Mississippi, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs, LLC. Ocean Aero’s vehicles will be deployed in a variety of maritime environments, providing a platform for the integration, testing, and evaluation of a suite of advanced sensors.

Eric Patten, CEO of Ocean Aero, commented: “This is a strategic agreement, and we’re proud to be working with DHS S&T and such a distinguished group of organizations, who are committed to protecting the maritime environments surrounding our nation. This new program is in line with the Commercial Engagement through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act of 2018 and adds to the rapidly increasing adoption of unmanned systems by our government agencies.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact