Uncrewed Systems Technology 051 l Primoco One 150 l Power management l Ocius Bluebottle USV l Steel E-Motive robotaxi l UAVs insight l Xponential 2023 p Issue 51 Aug/Sept 2023 art 2 l Aant Farm TPR72 l Servos l Tampa Deep Sea Barracuda AUV

50 Digest | Ocius Bluebottle USV Development history Named after the jellyfish-like Portuguese man o’ war (which are referred to as ‘bluebottles’ found mainly in the Pacific), the Bluebottle USV has been developed using lessons drawn from Dane’s 25-year background in naval architecture – and, unusually for USVs, with considerable inspiration from the racing world. “In 1996, I saw a solar boat race in Canberra. The boats all looked like solar racecars, with flat solar tops, and I thought: why wouldn’t they angle their solar panels to face the sun, and use them as sails which could also fold down in a storm or headwind in a seaworthy way?” Dane recounts. “A year later, a bunch of friends and I entered a boat designed just like that. The judges approved the design, and we won a 60 km race by 30 km, purely because we could angle our solar sail to face the sun or use it to harness the wind and fold it in a headwind.” Although that design was a catamaran, it was the origin of the Bluebottle concept, and Dane founded his company soon after to pursue its commercial development. Originally founded as Solar Sailor Holdings in 1999, the company name was changed to Ocius (Latin for ‘fleet’) in 2014. Its headquarters are at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, where most of its r&d takes place. Soon after founding Solar Sailor, the company worked on a solar and hybridelectric ferry, initially just for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, although by 2013 six had been sold around the world. Dane notes, “Four of the ferries still run in Hong Kong, from the mainland to a golf course. In 2007, we were asked by people in the US defence community if our tech could be used to build a platform that could go to sea ‘forever’. They asked me a bunch of questions, and I answered each one with, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’ Things like powering it for 10 days at 10 W, having 40 W continuously 24/7, producing kilowatts for a few minutes at peak, it was all achievable.” Although the defence people eventually opted for another OEM with a dieselelectric design, Dane built a prototype based around the queried specs anyway, a USV about 3 m long named Nemo. It was displayed at conferences in 2013, and drew the attention of Australian defence personnel and Thales Australia. That led to a contract in 2015 to build what would become the first Bluebottle, named Bruce. During the subsequent years of optimising and maturing the Bluebottle design, Ocius was also contracted by Australia’s Defence Innovation Hub in 2017 to build an intelligent C2 network of persistent USVs. This was key to Ocius choosing its location at UNSW: computer science is a vigorously promoted course and department there, and the company has taken on many of its most valued researchers from it. August/September 2023 | Uncrewed Systems Technology In the morning, the sunrise gives the Bluebottle about 100 W via the solar top deck, and 400 W more once the sail is deployed