The growing demand for safe, unmanned, remote and sustainable maritime operations runs in parallel with the increasing need for digitisation and automation. Demcon unmanned systems addresses these challenges with fully in-house developed and manufactured unmanned autonomous vessels (USVs) for surveying, monitoring and maintenance applications in shallow, inland and offshore waters.

The USVs were awarded this year’s Maritime Innovation Award at the Maritime Awards Gala, which took place tonight (1 November) at De Doelen in Rotterdam.

The USVs are based on a standardised system architecture and platform design. The vessel design can be customised and scaled in size, power and propulsion to meet customer’ specific operating and equipment integration requirements. Demcon delivers custom-built USVs in a costeffective manner.

The novelty in the USVs is the patented positioning system. A fixed thruster configuration enabling complete (holonomic) motion control in all directions without moving steering parts such as rudders or turntable thruster-pods. Vessels with this positioning system are able to perform GNSS(GPS)-coordinate dynamic positioning only by altering the propeller speed per thruster. This results in accurate manoeuvrability even at low speeds in both manual and autonomous operations.

By combining the novel positioning system with full electric rim driven thrusters, in a watertight bulkhead-separated “unsinkable” hull, Demcon has created low maintenance, silent and sustainable USVs. The minimal (moving) parts, absence of gears, lubricants and liquids, and the zero- emission system reduce the impact of maritime operations on the marine wildlife above and below water.

Other nominees

There were two other nominees. The second nominee in addition to Demcon was Optics11 with its OTADES, a next generation of fast and flexible towed arrays. OTADES is a highly innovative towed array solution that addresses the drawbacks of conventional ones. OTADES is a fibre-based thin acoustic array that uses only light instead of electrical signals. The individual hydrophones in the array are smaller in diameter, yet they deliver the same performance due to the use of patented fibre optic technology.

The third nominee was Marine Performance Systems with an air lubrication solution. The solution is called FluidicAL, and represents a significant enhancement to known air lubrication solutions with an estimated net fuel savings in the range of eight to twelve per cent. Specifically, FluidicAL enables the efficient generation of the micro air bubbles. The solution also allows controlling and maintaining the air layer underneath the vessel. In addition, it can cover the largest area of flat bottom of any existing solutions.

Also read: NMT announces Maritime Innovation Award nominees

Maritime Innovation Award

Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) established the Maritime Innovation Award at the end of 2000 on the occasion of the retirement of the then chairman, Mr Gerard Speld. The award is intended to highlight the innovative power of the maritime and offshore supply industry. In addition, the award should stimulate innovative developments within the maritime cluster. The Maritime Innovation Award is an annual award that is presented during the Maritime Awards Gala.

Also read: Maritime Innovation Award goes to Econowind Unit