World’s First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel Under Development

There are several reasons why going the autonomous vessels way makes more sense now. It would lower human errors and costs, and enhance safety, just to name some of the primary benefits. Aware of these benefits, Plymouth Marine Laboratory is developing the first long-range autonomous research vessel in the world.

World's First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel
Image Credits: pml.ac.uk

Oceanus will be designed and constructed by a Plymouth-based firm named M Subs Ltd. Some drawings and plans are in place so far. It can be said that it is going to have a sleek and futuristic look. It is expected to be 24 m long, with a beam of 3.5 m.

It will be lightweight and also mono hulled. Since it is meant to aid scientists in their research on climate change, fisheries, biodiversity, or biogeochemistry it will be capable of transporting different types of sensors that can gather essential data.

World's First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel diagram n
Click Image To Enlarge | Image Credits: pml.ac.uk

With the environmental factor in mind, Oceanus will be powered by a fuel-efficient diesel engine, an on-board micro-energy generation device, and solar power, courtesy of the panels on the deck, as explained by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

World's First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel diagram 2
Click Image To Enlarge | Image Credits: pml.ac.uk

Fuel consumption will be reduced significantly as no crew members will be on the vessel to add to the weight of the ship. There won’t be any living facilities as well. More information on the vessel’s range capabilities is awaited.

World's First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel diagram
Click Image To Enlarge | Image Credits: pml.ac.uk

Scientists are hoping Oceanus can make transatlantic sampling voyages to the Falklands from the UK and will enable a remote Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT), an annual marine research expedition on the Atlantic. The first voyage of this kind had taken place in 1995.

World's First Long-Range Autonomous Research Vessel diagram 4
Click Image To Enlarge | Image Credits: pml.ac.uk

While Oceanus is in its designing phase, there are other examples of autonomous vessels that have managed to cruise with remote control. One such example would be Nellie Bly that completed the world’s first 1,000+ nm voyage in fall, in the waters of Denmark and Germany. We also have Suzaku, a 749 GT cargo vessel that has taken a 490-mile trip in Japan using artificial intelligence.

Reference: pml.ac.uk

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