AutoNaut is primarily wave propelled; harvesting the energy from the ‘motion in the ocean’ to propel the vessel forwards, the product of some 30 years of experimentation by company Director, Mike Poole. Over the last two years, the engineers at MOST (AV) Ltd. have been working hard to develop the efficiency and robustness of the system and prepare the product for the conditions expected on persistent, offshore data collection missions.
AutoNaut is available in two sizes, 3.5m and 5m but the technology is scalable and unmanned boats up to 10m are possible (this limit in size reflects likely maritime operating regulations). The 3.5m vessel is easily car-topped or trailored and can be launched with just one person.
AutoNaut can be remotely driven away from a slipway or towed to a release point using a small support boat. For recovery, AutoNaut can be sent back to a waypoint just offshore and escorted back in with a support boat or can be recovered by a ship at sea using a crane or davit.
The wave propulsion will offer 2 – 3 knots vessel speed with a 3.5m hull and 3 – 4 knots with a 5m hull. In the case of calm weather or in an area with strong tidal streams, an electric propulsion pod is available to provide 1 – 2 knots speed; this is also useful when maneuvering away from a slip.
Photovoltaic panels trickle charge the vessel’s lead gel batteries during daylight hours, powering the command and control system and sensors. In low sunlight areas and for high power sensors, a methanol fuel cell can be added to the fully autonomous power supply to charge the batteries.
AutoNaut can be controlled using local UHF or WiFi comms, or an Iridium Satellite link. Waypoints, tracks and missions can be sent to the vessel by the pilot at any time and easily amended dependent on weather conditions or mission requirements. With AIS collision avoidance enabled, AutoNaut will assess all AIS targets within a 4km range and avoid any which are on a collision course. Radar transceivers are an option most customers chose, as a failsafe to alert those around of the vessel in their proximity.
AutoNaut is fully configurable to any customer’s requirements. A wide range of sensors can be fitted through the hull, on a mast and / or towed behind the vessel. ADCPs (Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers), CTDs (Conductivity Temperature Depth), weather stations and Passive Acoustic Monitoring arrays have all been integrated and trialed in AutoNauts to great effect. The 5m hull design is optimized to operate high resolution Multi Beam Echo Sounders.