Maritime Congressional Hearing Reveals Potential of Unmanned Vehicles to Improve Maritime Domain Awareness, Reduce Costs. Unmanned Technologies Can Fill Ocean Data Information Gap.
During the July 31 Congressional Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing entitled How to Improve the Efficiency, Safety and Security of Maritime Transportation: Better Use and Integration of Maritime Domain Awareness Data, Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-CA) encouraged the Coast Guard to work with commercial industry to identify the latest technologies that can meet, as well as extend, their current missions while reducing overall costs.
Mr. Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics, joined experts from private industry and academia to testify about the enormous potential of unmanned vehicles to assist the Coast Guard in protecting and safeguarding U.S. interests along the coastlines and in deep seas, by economically supporting and extending the Coast Guard mission capabilities.
Mr. Steve Morrow, president & CEO of Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing testified on behalf of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and highlighted the potential of UAS, citing examples of their ability to save time, save money, and ultimately save lives. Mr. Morrow concurred that the integration of unmanned robotics was a viable solution to solve multiple ocean issues that were previously cost prohibitive or where the risk to life was too great.
Chairman Hunter urged the Coast Guard to make the right decisions using technology that is available today from private industry. Commenting on the review of possible solutions by Rear Admiral Mark E. Butt, United States Coast Guard, Congressman Hunter shared with the panel that he was in Palo Alto, Calif., a few months ago where he saw technology [Wave Glider marine robots] from Liquid Robotics and said: “They’re extremely inexpensive, they can test the water, they have cameras on them. They...can see oil sheen or any other kind of spill on the water. They can test the water, they can test weather, and they can do a lot of different things. And it takes no people whatsoever to do this. You can literally have a thousand of them on the ocean at a time, or ten thousand - however many you may think you need.”
Chairman Hunter continued: “The Coast Guard should be the ones who experiment with this type of technology, who put it to use, who save a lot of money doing it and [who] don’t have to go through any government contractors at all because it’s out there sitting waiting for you to buy it. You don’t have to necessarily know what to call it to know that it can save you lots of money, make you very efficient and more effective on the ocean.”
Among its many applications, Wave Glider technology can be used as a gateway platform to facilitate sub-sea to surface to aerial to satellite communications, due to its long duration, sensor and real time communications capabilities. Wave Glider autonomous surface vehicles are able to remain at sea for months or even years at a time (no fuel or crew required) since they tap into the infinite energy supplied by waves and sun. And because Wave Gliders can operate effectively in the most severe hurricane force weather, they are an exceptional platform on which to integrate unmanned air, subsurface and satellite data.
Responding to questions from Chairman Hunter, Mr. Vass discussed the Wave Glider’s powerful onboard computing capability with the ability to perform real time analysis and communicate the answer to stakeholders (or mission control or command centers). This integrated data processing capability combined with precise navigation and extended mission capabilities can open opportunities never before possible.