Unmanned Systems Technology 038 l Skyeton Raybird-3 l Data storage l Sea-Kit X-Class USV l USVs insight l Spectronik PEM fuel cells l Blue White Robotics UVIO l Antennas l AUVSI Xponential Virtual 2021 report

50 W ith shipping routes and other international maritime partnerships set to return to relative normality as Covid-induced restrictions start to ease, governments and businesses around the world are redoubling their efforts regarding environmental sustainability and the security of ocean-based assets. In addition to a huge number of fresh orders for wind farms, new projects in maritime border monitoring, hydrography, offshore oil & gas and other critical industries are being conducted at unprecedented rates. Fortunately, the global shutdowns have not noticeably slowed USV development. With many years of experience now under their belts, maritime unmanned systems companies are unveiling a flood of next-generation designs, updates and collaborative projects to tackle the most pressing marine concerns of 2021. Ocean mapping As seen with solar-powered HALE UAVs, renewable energy can provide unmanned vehicles with outstanding endurances, and USVs have a range of such energy sources to choose from, such as wind and waves as well as solar. Such is the success with which Saildrone has achieved this with its eponymous USV – which is powered by wind, solar and hydroelectricity – that the company has unveiled its larger, next- generation system, the Saildrone Surveyor. The Surveyor is 72 ft (21.9 m) long, slightly more than three times the length of the original 23 ft Saildrone Explorer, which so far has notched up over 500,000 nautical miles of survey operations. “The Saildrone concept is completely scalable, and like any sailboat, the longer its waterline gets, the more its speed and carrying capacity increase,” says Saildrone’s CEO Richard Jenkins. “For the Surveyor’s bathymetry missions, 72 ft gave us a happy medium between manufacturability and having enough power, comms, sensors and other hardware on board to be a valuable USV for ocean mapping.” He adds that greater size means more area for solar panels. While wind is harnessed by the USV’s sail, primarily for propulsion, electrical energy comes from a battery charged by the solar cells and an onboard hydroelectric generator, which contains a shaft and turbine that are propelled by water as the vessel sails through it. “A bigger sail and longer waterline also means more speed, hence more hydroelectric power for sensors,” Jenkins says. “We’ve deployed 100 or so Explorers around the world, from the Arctic to the Southern oceans. As the rate at which new and updated USVs are being launched grows faster than ever, Rory Jackson points to some of their key developments In full spate June/July 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology Saildrone’s Surveyor is the company’s newest USV, and will take on ocean mapping duties like the original Saildrone Explorer, albeit with larger payloads and more power generation (Courtesy of Saildrone)