New "Robot Boat" Family Debuts in Abu Dhabi

Greg Trauthwein
Friday, February 08, 2013

Today Al Seer Marine and 5G International announced the introduction of a new family of unmanned surface vessels, a family ranging from the 3m Sea Serpent to the 11m monohull Eclipse. The USV family is designed to rapidly penetrate a vibrant Middle East defense market and to offer affordable, dependable USV options for commercial operations.

Set to debut at this month’s International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, the Al Seer Marine/5G offering includes three vehicles:

  • Sea Serpent, the small 3-m “jet ski” version;
  • Boomeranger, the larger 11-m RIB; and
  • Eclipse, the top-of-class 11-m monohull.

While USV technology is surely not in its infancy, in relative terms, particularly when considering dramatic strides made in aerial and ground robotics, it is still pre-puberty. To help propel its maturity, the Al Seer/5G solution takes into account not simply the vessels, but the entire package, from technical outfit to maintenance, as well as safe and efficient launch and recovery.

For example, an outstanding feature of the top model, the 11m Eclipse monohull, is a proprietary hybrid propulsion system. Powered by twin Fiat N67500 engines with a light commercial rating of just over 500 hp driving Rolls-Royce jets through ZF gears, the USV sports a top speed excess of 60 knots.

But it is when the vessel slows down that it truly shows its value.

Featuring a pair of 13kW electric motors, the proprietary hybrid propulsion system gives the USV the ability to loiter for extended lengths of time, an intelligent system that allows the user, for example, to use only one jet at a time to hold station, effectively extending battery life and subsequently loiter time by eight to 10 hours.

“A lot of the hybrid systems have been developed for recreational use to give you electric power out of the marina. But we are obviously looking for something that will provide hundreds of thousands of hours of reliable use,” said Keith Henderson, Director, 5G Marine Systems LLC, and the man that Murphy credits with identifying and bringing together the suppliers and components in quick, seamless order. “The system is robust, with only minimal moving parts and with service after 20,000 hours at sea before anything has to be replaced.”

 

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News last month was on hand in Abu Dhabi for the unveiling of the new Unmanned Surface Vessel family, a report contained in full in the February 2013 edition.  For the full story, read the February edition, or contact Greg Trauthwein at trauthwein@marinelink.com for a preview.

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