Alex Jenkins
IT Consultant

Unmanned Surface Vehicle Technology – What You Need to Know

Since its initial inception in 2013, the race to perfect and implement the technology behind remote Unmanned Surface Vehicle Technology (USV) in the UAE has become both fast and furious. However, the wait appears to be over. This past February, Al Marakeb Boat Manufacturing Company, a leading UAE based maritime company, displayed its latest in USV technologies at the NAVDEX 2019.

The event, which took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), gave attendees a sneak peek at the latest innovations and developments behind Remote Control USV Technology. In accordance with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, the company, working in partnership with key industry players, exhibited its state of the art innovations at the show.

Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030

Announced in 2010, the Abu Dhabi Government announced its long-term vision to transform the emirate’s economy. The goal of Economic Vision 2030 is to reduce economic reliance on oil resources while simultaneously shifting economic growth factors to the knowledge-based industries of the future (i.e. IT, IoT, AI, etc.).

According to the Official Portal of the UAE Government, the plan strives to:

  • Build an open, efficient, effective and globally integrated business environment.
  • Adopt a disciplined fiscal policy that is responsive to economic cycles.
  • Establish a resilient monetary and financial market environment with manageable levels of inflation.
  • Drive significant improvement in the efficiency of the labour market.
  • Develop a sufficient and resilient infrastructure capable of supporting anticipated economic growth.
  • Develop a highly skilled, highly productive workforce.
  • Enabling financial markets to become the key financiers of economic sectors and projects.

What is an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV)?

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV), also referred to as Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV), are maritime vessels that operate on the water surface without a manned crew. That’s right, USV are remotely controlled! Additionally, they can be operated from both land or on board another vessel.

There are many practical applications and benefits to USV technology, to include:

  • Oceanographic applications – USV are more useful, adaptable, dependable, and cost-effective than weather buoys, weather ships, and equivalent research vessels. They can also be deployed to track large mammals during biological studies.
  • Cartography – USV is the optimal device for exploration and mapping of marine areas from the water.
  • Defence capabilities – Developed for defence against surface and aerial threats, USV with missile launching capabilities provide a completely customisable solution for various naval platforms.
  • Protection forces – USV have a wide variety of applications, such as anti-terrorism forces, anti-piracy forces, reconnaissance, surveillance, electronic warfare, and mining.

USV are stable, fast, stealthy, and highly manoeuvrable. Traditionally, their main military application is to act as a maritime mobile target for military training and to test their defence systems. Other capabilities and benefits include:

  • Fully autonomous control of the USV.
  • Improved safety systems.
  • Ability to control multiple USV.
  • Joint capabilities with a tethered drone from a single control station.
  • Tracking capabilities (i.e. other vessels, mammals, etc.).
  • Compatibility with various vehicles (i.e. other boats, catamarans, drones, etc.).
  • Global satellite communication.

The Future of Remote USV Technology

According to Business Wire, The Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics in the Defense industry market, was valued at 39.22 billion USD in 2018. Additionally, the USV market is projected to grow to a value of $61 USD billion by 2027. The cumulative market for global expenditure on AI & Robotics Defense Systems is valued at $487 billion USD during the same forecast period.

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. As a result, shipping remains at the heart of global commerce. Coupled with the renewable energy resources of the sea (i.e. wind and water), the USV market is not only practical but also promising. As a growing market, USV offers great opportunities to countries and companies looking to position themselves as global leaders and thanks to programs such as Economic Vision 2030, the UAE is poised to become a global leader in the industry

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