Van Oord orders autonomous survey vessel for challenging conditions

Van Oord has placed a new order with Demcon unmanned systems for an unmanned autonomous survey vessel suitable for challenging offshore conditions.

Source: Demcon

The DUS V5750 model, set to be delivered in one year, can be used in support of dredging operations, installing offshore wind farms, and constructing maritime infrastructure.

According to Demcon, the use of electric unmanned vessels enables Van Oord to make its operations more sustainable, work more safely, and optimally deploy its employees.

The vessel platform will be able to sail much longer at sea than in inland water applications, therefore DUS V5750 will have more batteries and if this is not sufficient, a hybrid system can further extend the time and range at sea up to thirty days, the company said.

Besides cable-laying, potential opportunities are support for coastal sand replenishment or for the deployment of drones for the inspection of wind turbines.

“The autonomous offshore inspection platform is with 6 meters in size a magnitude larger than the DUS V2500 model, must be able to sail at sea for several weeks and will incorporate new autonomous applications for unmanned offshore operations,” said Fedor Ester, managing director of Demcon unmanned systems.

“It contains our standardized and modular autonomous navigation system. We design and scale the hull, power and propulsion around this system based on client-specific performance criteria. Moreover, we will be adding new functionalities to better suit operational requirements.”

Demcon will be developing a weather-dependent dynamic positioning functionality so the survey vessel can follow the cable-laying vessel. This functionality will ensure that the vessel’s nose is pointed in the direction of wind, currents and waves to provide for the least possible resistance.

“It is therefore possible that the vessel will be following the cable-laying vessel in a lateral position. While this may seem like an unnatural angle, this is more efficient and not a problem due to our own innovative Dynamic Positioning system,” Ester added.

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The vessel operates at short distances (150 meters) and in complex enclosed environments using, amongst others, 360-degree laser scanning technology with LiDAR sensors.

Different types of cameras, radar and electronic navigation chart data will be used to look further away and in different weather conditions. The DUS collision avoidance system ensures that obstacles are identified and decides how to avoid them in compliance with the rules that apply to sailing on water.

In addition, the communication system will be expanded. The current vessels use a redundant WLAN and an LTE (4G/5G) datalink, while the DUS V5750 models will be supplemented with satellite communications.