Autonomous systems builder Ocius has successfully trialled its Bluebottle unmanned surface vessel (USV) developed as part of a $3 million Defence innovation contract.
The 18 foot Bluebottle prototype successfully identified and navigated around surface vessels such as speed boats in trials off the NSW coast, and maintained speed in various sea conditions.
Bluebottle is normally powered by the waves which operate an underwater ‘flipper’, though the boat is equipped with a back up propeller.
The vessels, known as Bob, is one of a umber of prototypes built for the company by Ulladulla Fibreglass and Engineering.
The test required Bob to remain within a confined ‘box’ position using no power, even in the presence of a strong coastal current.
The company said in a statement: “By the end of a week, as the team revised, uploaded and tested new algorithms for certain headings and conditions, Bob was sailing and tacking brilliantly and combined with wave and solar power was able to navigate freely.”
Bob was able to more at up to 1.5 knots against the seas and 3 knots with the seas. It operates fully autonomously.
Ocius envisages the UAS as a low-cost surveillance platform, relaying information via satellite and remaining on station for long periods of time.
Defence provided the development grant through the Defence Innovation Hub.
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