Uncrewed Systems Technology 046

49 came about through the realisation of some fundamental issues affecting the traditional AUV market – and much broader ones than just the question of coastal and lake surveys. “Our CEO and co-founder, Vidal Teixeira, had led various companies in the past, and across them he worked quite a bit with autonomous systems and in ocean physics and other water- related technologies,” explains Luc Simon, business development manager at Seaber. “I worked with him back then, and there came a moment where he realised that offering an AUV of around or less than 50 kg was logistically a massive enabler for organisations with maritime interests. “Around that time, normal AUVs were priced at e 200,000-1,000,000; in fact, many still cost that much. And such vehicles weigh hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilos. When AUVs are that expensive and difficult to work with, you’re so paranoid about risk that, one, you’re awfully hesitant about acquiring an AUV, maybe taking years between initial enquiry and purchase; and two, you’re so cautious about deploying it that you can take years to get the value back from it in data terms.” Teixeira surmised that a far lighter and less costly AUV (within a e 30,000-50,000 budget) would reach a far wider range of users, and enable far more regular collection of data on a wide range of critical environmental and commercial assets. It also envisioned a micro-AUV improving the average quality of marine data. Compared with ROVs and buoys, the ability of AUVs to move dynamically across all three axes of movement and rotation, and capture spatially rich data – while also moving at great range from their place of launch and intelligently navigating within metres of key points of interest – would make them far superior. Teixeira therefore gathered as many seasoned engineers as possible from the world of maritime robotics, as well as a few from terrestrial robotics companies. Development history Seaber was founded in July 2020, and work progressed rapidly over the next 9 months, having started beforehand with the first blueprint drawings and going to the first prototype deployments in water before the year was over. “What was key to our short development timescale was to avoid the trap of being an r&d company making on-request prototypes, but instead target a finished off- the-shelve solution,” Simon recounts. “We were going to make a single product, encapsulating all our efforts to respond directly to what we saw as the lake and coastal market’s demands. Seaber YUCO | Digest Uncrewed Systems Technology | October/November 2022 The YUCO has been designed as a flexible, low-cost solution, with versions coming with different noses depending on the mission data wanted (Images courtesy of Seaber)