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

52 Insight | USVs combine the lessons from our other systems, especially on high-power GPUs and sensors as well as redundancy, data storage, battery management, data link encryption and other areas.” Another USV designed around long- endurance data gathering through a hybrid combination of solar and diesel power is XOcean’s XO-450 (detailed in UST 22, October/November 2018). To date, it has completed more than 100 projects in 14 countries and, seeking to grow its range of products, the company has launched the XO-580 5.8 m USV, which has passed all its sea trials and is now entering commercial service. CEO James Ives told us about a few key differences between this and the XO-450. “First, we’ve built the hulls out of aluminium rather than GRP, and we’ve given it more power and range by fitting twin generators providing more than 6 kW of available power. That allows even larger sensor payloads, as well as longer offshore endurance.” The first unit was built and trialled in Nova Scotia, Canada. Having achieved all the performance targets in a matter of days, it was shipped to Europe to begin service with its first customers. Two more have been commissioned so far. “We’re building more XO-450s as well, which will bring our fleet size up to 15 USVs by the end of this summer. The power and endurance of the XO- 580 creates the opportunity for longer missions, and with the XO-450 it means we can provide the flexibility to select the right vessel for a given job,” Ives adds. “The onboard systems are nearly identical in terms of controls, electronics, comms and propulsion components. The extra power and durability of the XO-580 allows around 500 kg of payload compared with 150 kg on the XO-450, and nearly a month’s endurance.” He notes that the company will be closely assessing the benefits of the new aluminium hulls to see what advantages could be gained from them. XOcean has also recently adopted Marine AI’s Guardian Vision AI software. Integrating it is expected to augment the situational awareness of operators. “The onshore USV pilot is presented with a lot of situational awareness data,” Ives explains. “The Guardian applies machine learning to this data to identify high-priority objects for the pilot. “Just as the pilot looks for other marine users and navigation marks, so the Guardian aims to provide an extra set of eyes to make sure nothing important has been missed.” The system is currently running on some of XOcean’s USVs, and is successfully interrogating image feeds from the existing camera suite. The next developments will be to gauge how efficiently and reliably it can identify targets, after which the company’s engineers will begin experimenting with different ways of using the software’s capabilities to best support the pilot’s workload and situational awareness. “With remote working continuing, we’ll be dialling-in Marine AI’s technicians so they can see how their software performs on our boats, and our engineers can give them feedback about what we’re learning from the system,” Ives adds. Offshore energy Wind power represents one of the fastest-growing offshore industries and sources of clean energy, but much of its infrastructure is known to already need widespread repair. That is spurring new approaches to inspecting coastal turbines to enhance the safety and cost- effectiveness of doing so. Since manned inspections of offshore wind turbines can be highly dangerous and expensive, USV company Tidewise is developing a combined USV-UAV solution. It was originally developed for oil spill inspections – another critical maritime operation that is extremely hazardous to humans – but it now also stands to provide fully autonomous monitoring of wind farms. The USV half of this solution is the company’s Tupan platform, a diesel- electric vessel displacing 1300 kg, and measuring 4.92 m in length with a 1.78 m beam and 0.45 m draft. “In December last year, we demonstrated a prototype of the UAV landing on the USV, and that was entirely unmanned,” says Rafael Coelho, executive director of Tidewise. “The idea is for the USV to travel to an inspection area, then the UAV takes off at a predetermined waypoint and surveys the area using thermal cameras to detect wind farm damage or oil spills in the water. Software embedded in the aircraft then recognises IR markers for instances of either.” After completing its survey, the UAV will return to the USV, land via a platform June/July 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology XOcean has unveiled its XO-580 USV, which is 5.8 m long, built from aluminium and integrates twin generators for 6 kW or higher output (Courtesy of XOcean)