Autonomous Pentamaran USV Unveiled

By Mike Ball / 24 Apr 2020

BMT Pentamaran USV

Maritime design & engineering firm BMT has unveiled its new autonomous Pentamaran unmanned surface vessel (USV), designed for both commercial and defense applications such as security patrol, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and hydrographic surveying.

Drawing on 34 years of experience with innovative hull design, the BMT team have reduced drag as much as possible, and tests have proven that the pentamaran design offers significant improvements compared to conventional hull forms such as mono-hulls, catamarans and trimaran.

The vessel features a very slender central hull and two smaller hulls or ‘sponsons’ on either side. The sponsons are set one behind the other, and when the vessel is operating on flat water, the forward sponsons are not submerged, providing roll stability in waves only. Compared to a trimaran there is less volume permanently submerged and therefore less resistance through the water.

BMT have integrated multiple independent power sources into the Pentamaran USV in order to increase reliability and survivability, which are key to the successful long-term operation of autonomous vessels.

Martin Bissuel, Business Sector Lead for Specialised Ship Design at BMT, commented: “Our team have carried out extensive work on this. The data gathered through extensive towing tank testing is very compelling. For applications where fuel economy matters, the Pentamaran hull form is more efficient than conventional full forms, which means that using the same engines and the same amount of fuel, it will go further than any other, making it an ideal candidate for autonomous applications. Looking at it from a distance it may resemble a trimaran but that’s where the similarities end.”

“The arrangement and careful positioning of the four sponsons makes all the difference. The forward sponsons stay above the water, and only come into action when the vessel rolls, so not only the drag is reduced, but the sea keeping characteristics are improved. Compared to a trimaran hull form, lateral accelerations are lower, reducing g-loadings on the structure as well as the antennae and sensors on deck. The wide deck offers a large working area for multi-role capabilities. It can accommodate payloads or interface with other systems such as unmanned air vehicles.”

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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