Zycraft has completed the second engineering development phase of its new unmanned fireboat, an 8-metre vessel with twin remote-controlled water cannons. Phase I involved the fitting of a firefighting system to the company’s 17-metre Longrunner USV (unmanned surface vessel), and the testing and evaluation of software algorithms for remote firefighting and control of the vessel in order to verify the proper protocols needed.
With a Unifire Force 50 remote-controlled water cannon installed at the bow, the Longrunner USV successfully navigated its way to a simulated boat on fire at sea, and executed unmanned firefighting manoeuvres around the boat. Using an electrically driven pump with 60 cubic metres/hour flow rate, a spray distance of 35 metres was achieved.
The firefighting software developed and patented by Zycraft enabled the USV to autonomously carry out surveillance around the simulated boat whilst synchronising the water cannon’s jet landing point with the USV’s electro-optic system. An operator at the vessel’s command centre focused on the fire fighting with a clear picture of the surrounding environment, allowing the shore control centre to decide where and when to begin the firefighting operations.
The new unmanned fireboat’s twin remote-controlled water cannons will have a reach of 70 metres, with one cannon installed on a telescopic mast. An engine-driven fire pump will provide flow of 1500 gpm at 150 psi. The vessel will be powered by a single diesel engine and waterjet, delivering a maximum speed of 35 knots. A drop-down thruster will provide the heading precision needed during firefighting.
According to James Soon, General Manager of Zycraft, details are being finalised for construction of the first vessel to showcase to customers. Soon commented: “The market potential for small unmanned fireboats is great due to large populations and industries living next to the water. An unmanned fireboat provides enhanced readiness on a 24/7 basis. It also optimises the command and control of firefighting assets over a large area and leads to lower operating costs. Our unmanned fireboat will revolutionalize the way waterborne firefighting is done.”