UK-based marine electronics specialist Reygar has launched V-PILOT, an integrated autopilot and mission planning system for unmanned survey vessels (USVs). The system uses an embedded vessel controller and a shore-side user interface to connect to existing GPS, thrusters, steering and associated command systems.
The siting and construction of offshore wind farms and associated seabed infrastructure requires accurate mapping of wide areas of the ocean floor. This critical activity typically becomes more challenging and costly with each kilometre further from shore, as vessels must follow an accurate track to reliably map many square miles of seabed at greater water depths. However, analysis by WindEurope has illustrated that offshore wind projects are being constructed further out to sea than ever before, while 60% of the emerging US offshore wind industry’s suitable sites have a water depth of more than 200ft. This raises the question of how energy project owners and vessel operators can keep costs down while achieving high data collection standards.
To ensure survey firms are able to deliver accurate, reliable and cost-effective data to the offshore wind industry, Reygar has created V-PILOT, an autopilot control system for USVs. V-PILOT draws from more than a decade of offshore wind support vessel monitoring experience thanks to Reygar’s BareFLEET platform reporting 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 HydroSurv’s unmanned vessel pilot project funded by Innovate UK.
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.
Chris Huxley-Reynard, Managing Director, Reygar, said, “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. 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.”
David Hull, Founder & CEO, HydroSurv, said, “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 2-year project”.