Autonomous guard vessel. Image credit: C-Job Naval Architects
A crewless ship capable of monitoring offshore wind farms is being developed by a consortium of maritime technology and design companies.
Their project aims to produce an autonomous guard vessel (AGV) that could, for example, guide other vessels safely through an offshore wind area.
The vessel would be powered by batteries and could be operated remotely from a control centre if necessary.
"The AGV is specifically designed for surveillance of offshore structures throughout their life cycle, ranging from wind farms to substation platforms and cable routes," the consortium said.
It is niche areas, like guard boats, that will likely see further developments in automated vessel technology.
"Smart vessel technology will have the most significant impact on small workboats," said Frank Relou, who is business development manager at Sea Machines, a consortium member. "The development of autonomous technology for vessel operations is happening on an international level but in niche segments, such as guard vessels."
Other areas suitable for autonomous vessel operation include marine survey, fire, patrol and aquaculture, Relou added.
Other companies involved in the project include C-Job Naval Architects, SeaZip Offshore Service, Marin and eL-Tec elektrotechniek BV.