ASV’s C-Enduro, an unmanned wind and solar powered marine vessel, developed through the support of the UK government has recently started on a new ocean robotic mission. She is accompanied by six other unmanned marine vessels. The mission started off the southwest coast of England.
Controlling C-Enduro is the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) project. The craft will be travelling up to 480 kilometres for more than 20 days. C-Enduro will collect scientific data related to ocean processes and marine life as it travels the oceans.
NOC will communicate with the unmanned marine vessel using a satellite. Control and communication of the craft will be done at the control station of ASV’s new facility in Portchester.
“Working with NOC and being involved in this project is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of C-Enduro and has played a huge part in its overall development,” says Dan Hook, ASV Managing Director.
The development of the marine craft was undertaken by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBR) which is supported by the UK government. The C-Enduro project was made possible through the initiative of the National Oceanography Centres which required long endurance USVs for environmental research.
The National Environmental Research Council, the parent body of NOC, is a co-founder of the initiative. Two other organizations are involved in the project, the Technology Strategy Board and the Defence, Science, Technology Laboratories.
The team that directly undertook the project included Hyperdrive Ltd., which is instrumental in developing the motor options and power management systems of the marine vessel. Cranfield University contributed its effort in conducting the research on collision avoidance technologies.
The parent company, ASV handled the detailed production design of C-Enduro, build and commissioning of the unmanned marine vessel so that it could be fully operational and an open ocean capable vessel. The craft uses state of the art technologies so that it could operate in coastal and open ocean weather conditions, as well as all types of current and sea conditions.
There are several options in propelling the 4.2 meter long vessel. It has a 2.5 kW diesel generator, 12 x 100 watt solar panels, and a 720 watt wind turbine. When there are good solar sources, the vessel can run just by using the solar panels, while charging a battery pack. Solar power is stored in a 4.4 kWh lithium ion battery which is upgradeable to 8.8 kWh.
In good conditions, the C-Enduro can cruise at the speed of 3.5 knots, and can reach up to 7,500 nautical miles. Its mission endurance is around 60 to 90 days and the vessel can carry a payload of up to 100 kilograms.
It can also provide a payload electrical power of 500W peak and an average of 100W during a mission.
ASV is upbeat about its recent developments. “2014 has been our biggest year ever yet, we now have over 40 members of staff, opened a US arm of the business: ASV LLC, and have lots of exciting projects of the horizon,” says Dan Hook.