The siting and construction of offshore wind farms and associated seabed infrastructure requires accurate mapping of wide areas of the ocean floor. This typically becomes more challenging and costly with each mile further from shore, as survey vessels must follow an accurate track to reliably map many square miles of seabed at greater water depths. Unmanned survey vessels promise to provide a solution that can help wind farm developers and survey specialists keep costs down.
Bristol, U.K., based maritime control and monitoring specialist Reygar has launched an integrated autopilot and mission planning system for unmanned survey vessels. Called V-PILOT, the system uses an embedded vessel controller and a shore-side user interface to connect to existing GPS, thrusters, steering and associated command systems.
Reygar’s V-PILOT autopilot control system draws from more than a decade of offshore wind support vessel monitoring experience that Reygar has built up with its BareFLEET platform—which reports vessel health, performance and navigational data on close to a third of all operating crew transfer vessels—combined with its StemTIDE dynamic positioning system.
The V-PILOT technology has been tried and tested on a HydroSurv’s unmanned vessel pilot project funded by Innovate UK.
Reygar says the V-PILOT control system can be used for small and large unmanned vessels for both inshore and coastal survey and inspection operations. The system combines comprehensive mission planning features with autonomous mission following, and flexible survey payload interface capabilities. It consists of an embedded controller on the vessel and a shore side user interface, with the controller interfacing to the vessel’s existing GPS, thrusters and steering systems.
“It is of vital importance that as offshore wind expands into greater depths and distances from shore, maritime technology remains a step ahead of any new challenges,” says Reygar managing director Chris Huxley-Reynard. “At Reygar we believe that technology has a core role in ensuring the offshore wind support sector remains adaptable, efficient, and truly reflective of emerging end-user requirements. Our pilot project with HydroSurv has shown what innovation can do to improve the cost, safety, and reliability of offshore wind surveying and we look forward to expanding our V-PILOT offering to meet the needs of this ever-evolving market.”
Hydrosurv founder & CEO David Hull says: “Building upon previous Reygar collaborations including vessel control applications, we were pleased to work with Chris and his team to develop V-PILOT and demonstrate its use on our Uncrewed Surface Vehicles. System reliability, integrity and economy are critical factors which must be satisfied to achieve trust of remote and autonomous survey necessary for widespread adoption and Reygar’s system was subjected to significant on-water validation over the two-year project.”