They will test an unmanned ship with renewable propulsion

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Probarán buque no tripulado

Inspenet, December 12, 2023.

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is about to take delivery of a 6.8 meter renewable powered unmanned vessel (USV) which will undergo trials as part of a short-term lease.

This surface vessel, transported from Sydney to Auckland by HMNZS Aotearoa, is expected to begin its planned seven-month trial, during which it will perform maritime duties without requiring fuel and without the need for onboard personnel .

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Bluebottle: the unmanned vessel from Ocius Technology

Called “Bluebottle”, the USV is a product developed and manufactured by Ocius Technology , based in Sydney.

Bluebottle is powered by solar, wind or wave energy and uses a retractable rigid sail for wind propulsion. Photoelectric cells integrated into the sail power its motor. In low sunlight and wind situations, the boat has a unique fin and rudder mechanism that allows it to maneuver and move forward.

Capable of reaching speeds of up to five knots, Bluebottle can operate at sea indefinitely, even in challenging conditions with waves ranging from six to nine meters high.

The ship is equipped with various sensors, including radar and electro-optical and infrared cameras, ensuring safe and efficient navigation, and facilitating the identification of other vessels. A control center at Devonport Naval Base will continuously monitor and operate the USV. Communication with said center will be established through a mobile phone signal when the ship is near the coast, and through high and low band satellites at greater distances from the coast. Constant monitoring will ensure the safe and efficient operation of the vessel.

Commander Andy Bryant, RNZN Autonomous Systems Staff Officer, looks forward to demonstrating the potential of the USV.

The Bluebottle has already undertaken a number of activities in support of the Australian Government for long periods of time without the need to refuel, recharge or give the crew a break ,” he said.

“I am sure we will see similar benefits during our time with the ship, particularly a better understanding of how to operate and sustain unmanned vessels, and this will provide a great opportunity to share experiences on the new system with the Royal Australian Navy.” Bryant added.

Likewise, the USV displays notable transportation capabilities, as it can be easily towed to different locations in New Zealand, launched and recovered from a boat ramp. It also has the possibility of being lifted and lowered by crane from a Navy ship, which makes it an outstanding option for operations in international deployments.

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