Autonomous Surface & Underwater Autopilots
Marine autopilots allow the conversion of manned vessels and remotely piloted USVs (unmanned surface vessels) into ASVs (autonomous surface vessels), or the conversion of UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles) and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) into AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles).
Autonomous Marine Systems
The creation of autonomous marine control systems in this way allows operators to maximise the utility of their existing fleets without having to buy new dedicated boats or vehicles. Often, the installation of these remote control autopilots still allows the original vessel to retain its manned capabilities.
Marine autopilots for ASV and AUV may allow users to upload mission plans to be executed by the vessel, consisting of a series of waypoints and actions to be performed at specific locations. These actions may include the operation of various onboard sensors and systems such as EO/IR payloads, radar, sonar, and environmental sensors. Marine control systems may also provide monitoring of parameters such as speed, orientation and battery level. Communication with a base station or other nearby units may be via RF, LTE or SATCOM when above water, or acoustics when submerged.
AI Marine Autopilots
More sophisticated autopilots may incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to adapt dynamically to changing environments, taking in real-time data from shipping information, weather stations, and onboard sensors. Vessels equipped with these autopilots can operate more efficiently and avoid collisions and other incidents in hazardous, busy or constantly-changing environments.
The installation of marine autopilots reduces operator fatigue, improves efficiency and allows the vehicles to be deployed for long-duration “fire and forget” missions. Applications for autopilot-equipped USVs and UUVs include:
- Military ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance)
- ASW (anti-submarine warfare)
- Mine countermeasures
- Mapping and surveying
- Environmental monitoring