The 5 metre AutoNaut, an innovative wave propelled unmanned surface vessel (USV), is headed to Scotland to demonstrate its capabilities for navies around the world. Designed and built in the UK, AutoNaut is an unmanned surface vessel which uses the motion from the ocean to propel itself forward. The patented ‘Wave Foil Technology’ fitted to AutoNaut enables offshore deployments for multiple months with a range of sensors that will harvest data from the ocean.
As AutoNaut does not have an engine it is silent, so is the perfect platform from which to deploy passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) hydrophone arrays, providing a covert acoustic intelligence (AcInt) capability. All the energy generated by solar panels on the deck is delivered to onboard payloads, so a number of high tech sensors can be persistently deployed offshore reducing cost and risk relative to an equivalent manned vessel.
Dan Alldis, AutoNaut Ltd Design Manager, comments: “This is great opportunity to demonstrate the AutoNaut in a defence environment. We will deploy the AutoNaut into the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) theme of Unmanned Warrior, where we will ‘hunt’ a number of underwater targets in realistic scenarios. We will also provide a wide range of near real time sensor data to the Royal Navy including: radar signal measurement, day and low light 360° cameras and a multi-parameter metocean sensor package.”
AutoNaut Ltd has been working with market leading sensor providers in the UK. Seiche Ltd has developed a state of the art digital passive acoustic hydrophone array. The 25m ‘thin line’ array houses up to 32 passive acoustic hydrophones, which can be individually tuned and configured at any time by a remote operator. Phil Johnston, Business Development at Seiche Ltd adds: “The AutoNaut and our digital array are the perfect match. AutoNaut’s very low self-noise and the configurable hydrophones provide a formidable ASW capability. We are looking forward to deploying this array in a simulated tactical environment, and hope we can demonstrate the effectiveness of the AutoNaut/Digital Array package.”
Teledyne Defence has developed and proven the Phobos Radar Threat Warner system over a number of years, and has been working with AutoNaut Ltd to integrate it into the AutoNaut platform. Paddy Forrest, Head of Business Development at Teledyne Defence, said: “Our Phobos system provides a real time signal detection, measurement, and analysis capability between 2 – 18GHz. Phobos can detect and categorise multiple radar emitters, determine their bearing from AutoNaut, and ascertain if friendly or hostile. This information could prove to be an excellent asset for the collection of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data.”
AutoNaut Ltd has also integrated the YSI EXO2 Sonde multi-parameter water quality and oceanographic sensor. Provided by Xylem Analytics UK, this sensor coupled with a weather station can feed valuable in situ metocean measurements. David Goldsmith is the Director of Ocean and Coastal Business at Xylem Analytics UK and said “The EXO2 Sonde sensor package is a great fit within the AutoNaut, as it can pack a number of useful sensors into a small, low power instrument, especially useful for deployment in small unmanned vehicles. The EXO2 Sonde can deliver a wide range of data, including dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, conductivity and temperature, all valuable for the Geospacial Intelligence (GeoInt) theme at Unmanned Warrior.”
AutoNaut has been working closely with the QinetiQ and their Autonomy Campaign, headed up by Bill Biggs, who commented: “We have been working with AutoNaut over the last 2 years and will be providing a real time communications link for the AutoNaut in the ASW theme at Unmanned Warrior in October. The Unmanned Warrior exercise will be an excellent way for industry to show the Royal Navy and other NATO forces how unmanned systems can extend their capability whilst reducing risk and cost.”