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Unmanned and Autonomous, the C-Worker Approach

Ludovic Nachury
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The unmanned or autonomous ship is becoming more of a reality for the future. U.K.-based designer and builder of autonomous surface vessels, ASV recently showcased its latest autonomous vessel on the market, the C-Worker 5.

The company was started by managing director Dan Hook who had a passion for unmanned technology and saw that this technology had the potential to improve the way the industry worked at sea, for the better.

5 Days Before Refueling

The 5m-long vessel is capable of operating at 7 knots for five days before having to refuel. Designed to work as an autonomous surface vessel and as a force multiplier, it can also operate alongside traditional survey vessels to increase survey efficiency.

The C-Worker 5 has recently been involved with hydrographic surveying alongside a company called TerraSond in July. Sarah Dyer, sales and marketing coordinator explains: “TerraSond are using our C-Worker 5 as a force multiplier.

What this means is that they are running their normal survey vessel, but then also running the C-Worker 5 alongside it. This doubles the survey coverage because you have two vessels running instead of just one. The two vessels are running parallel lines. The C-Worker 5 is being controlled from the main survey vessel.”

The development of this technology show automation is being used in the industry, while the plausibility of this technology being utilized for larger vessels still remains a question for the future.

A Maritime Autonomous System Code of Conduct

Dyer explains the challenges developing and working with unmanned vessels: “The regulations around the use of unmanned vessels can be seen as a challenge, however, there is a lot of work being done in this area. In March this year the MIA (U.K. Marine Industries Alliance) launched the Maritime Autonomous Systems Code of Conduct. A guide endorsed by industry, on how operations should be conducted at sea.”

ASV adds that there are a variety of operations that are undertaken (or can be undertaken) by an unmanned boat. On the military side, these can include, but are not limited to, mine sweeping, mine hunting, mine disposal, port and harbor security and surveillance.

On the commercial side, these can include subsea positioning, hydrographic survey, oceanographic/scientific data collection, and subsea asset inspection.

Unmanned and Autonomous, the C-Worker Approach
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