Van Oord places order for unmanned offshore survey vessel

Dutch dredging and offshore operator Van Oord has placed an order with Demcon unmanned systems for the delivery of a new autonomous offshore platform, an electric unmanned vessel to be used in support of dredging operations, installing offshore windfarms and constructing maritime infrastructure.

Van Oord has previous experience with Demcon’s electrically powered survey vessels for hydrographical inspections in inland waters, already using four of its DUS V2500 models. With this additional order, the maritime contractor will go further and introduce unmanned offshore survey capabilities using a new DUS V5750 model.

“The autonomous offshore inspection platform is, with 6 metres in size, a magnitude larger than the DUS V2500 model, must be able to sail at sea for several weeks and will incorporate new autonomous applications for unmanned offshore operations,” said Fedor Ester, Managing Director of Demcon unmanned systems.

“It contains our standardised and modular autonomous navigation system. We design and scale the hull, power and propulsion around this system based on client-specific performance criteria. Moreover, we will be adding new functionalities to better suit operational requirements.”

“(The DUS V5750 will be) an easy-to-use vessel that can stand on land without any auxiliary aids and fits into a 20-foot container. The vessel will be delivered to Van Oord within one year. After that, we will continuously upgrade the vessel and autonomous navigation system software. This way, together with Van Oord, we will be improving the autonomous navigation and increasing the vessel’s range of applications over its lifetime.”

The existing Demcon situational awareness system will be upgraded for navigation at sea for the new vessel, which uses 360-degree laser scanning technology with LiDAR sensors combined with a host of other cameras, radar and electronic navigation chart data to support autonomous operation.

The software’s algorithms process and fuse the information from all of these sources into a digital model of the environment surrounding the vessel. The DUS collision avoidance system then identifies obstacles and decides how to avoid them in compliance with the existing COLREGS.

The communication systems deployed will also be upgraded for the new model, supplementing the LTE (4G/5G) data link already in use with satellite communications, to provide redundancy in availability outside of GSM coverage areas.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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