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44 T he latest wave of USV designs and updates are set to bring a range of unconventional hull architectures to the many marine markets that are growing in their awareness of the benefits that unmanned systems can bring. Many of these new hull configurations come from innovations that will benefit the manned as well as unmanned vehicle industries, particularly in terms of vehicle stability and lifespan. As with a lot of UAV and UGV designs, the innovations are partly a result of the freedom that USV designers have gained from being able to ignore the ergonomic and logistical constraints of needing to accommodate crews. Defence A partnership between Rafnar and Al Seer Marine Technologies is due to bring a patented hull design from the former into the latter’s USVs. Called the ÖK, it features a unique shape of planing hull. Planing hulls pitch upwards and glide on top of the water once sufficient speed is achieved, so they are not limited to the lower speeds typical of designs such as round-bottom hulls. However, planing hulls can also be subject to significant impacts from waves. The ÖK hull though, with its deep, dual concave keel shape, maintains planing while remaining steady in the water, without forcing the aft of the vessel downwards (or the fore of the vessel upwards). That improves the stability of the vessel and its ‘grip’ in the water when turning, even at speed. “The benefits from incorporating this hull will include platform stability for the sensor payload, and extended through- life replacement of most of the installed equipment, owing to the reduction in slamming – up to 90% less slamming is expected,” says Matthew Tracy, production manager at Al Seer. USV surveillance imagery from patrols or targeted ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) might be clearer as a result. Much of Al Seer’s portfolio of USVs – from the 11 m-long Tamin to the 4 m-long Hydra – are designed largely around these capabilities. The hull is also expected to offer benefits to manned optionally piloted Unmanned vessels are giving designers plenty of scope to replace personnel quarters with technological clout. Rory Jackson reports Crew cuts June/July 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology Al Seer plans to offer the ÖK hull from Rafnar as an option for its USVs (Courtesy of Al Seer)