After the successful deployment of its first unmanned (autonomous) survey vessel last year, Van Oord has ordered a second one. The first vessel is mainly used in inland water, but for the second vessel, the company is researching deployment in near-shore operations.

The VO:X Metiri is Van Oord’s first unmanned (autonomous) survey vessel. The idea for this vessel originated in Van Oord’s Survey department. The objective was to obtain more measuring data for the client at lower cost and to increase safety by eliminating an onboard operator and surveyor.

Thanks to its small dimensions, VO:X Metiri can operate in places that a normal survey vessel cannot access. The vessel was developed by the Van Oord Survey team in collaboration with high-end technology supplier Demcon.

‘The key to our success lies in combining Van Oord’s experience and expertise in survey with our knowledge of autonomous technologies and unmanned system development,’ says Fedor Ester, managing director of Demcon Unmanned Systems. ‘From design and engineering to the execution phase, the entire vessel was developed in-house and in close cooperation with Van Oord’s engineers.’

Also read: Upgraded Aeolus starts work on French offshore wind farm

Zero-emissions and low-noise engines

In 2020, VO:X Metiri surveyed two areas, in the River Rotte and in the basin in the Spaanse polder for the A16 motorway project in Rotterdam. The electrical vessel features the very latest in sustainable solutions, including zero emissions and low-noise engines, allowing the vessel to collect data without disturbing local fauna.

Frank Reynhout, surveyor at Van Oord: ‘VO:X Metiri gives us a great deal of flexibility thanks to its small dimensions and is put to use multiple times a week. This helps us provide project crews and clients with relevant measuring data in an efficient way. We are now mainly using it in inland water, but are researching deployment in near-shore operations for the second vessel. This way, we will be able to support vessel crews as well.’

Also read: Van Oord: dredging under pressure, strong performance in offshore wind