The future is here – Portchester firm shows off the power of self-driving unmanned boats 

Unmanned vessel Mast-9 is put through a series of challenges.
Unmanned vessel Mast-9 is put through a series of challenges.
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AN UNMANNED vessel designed in Portchester has completed more than 850 miles of navigating waterways and avoiding collisions at an international defence showcase.   

The firm, L3 ASV, has showcased the capabilities of the vessel, called Mast-9, at Autonomous Warrior 18, in Jervis Bay, Australia. 

The 9m boat travelled at up to 40 knots over 80 hours and covered 857 miles.

 During the fortnight the vessel had to show its capabilities in tasks including avoiding collisions, navigating waterways at different speeds, shadowing vessels, patrolling an area and holding a position. 

The company’s research and development lead, Dr Howard Tripp, feels the performance of the autonomous system shows the potential for unmanned vessels.

‘The reliability and consistency of the system was solid proof of the use case for autonomous surface platforms for persistent inspection and tracking at range, particularly in challenging environmental conditions,’ he said.

Dr Tripp feels the event gave an indication of the benefits of using unmanned vessels in potentially dangerous weather.

‘There were instances where the weather dictated that manned vessels had to return to harbour – the autonomous vessel, by its nature, was not subject to these concerns and was able to operate normally,’ he said. ‘This is where the real value in autonomy lies.’

In total, Mast-9 completed about 100 tasks using autonomous technology.

L3 ASV  has now delivered more than 100 systems, which are now deployed all over the world in the defence, oil and gas industries.