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Autonomous research boat goes DeepBlue

Operating under remote control or semi-autonomously to implement a mission plan, dependable performance, extended time on station and quiet operation are key criteria.

US-based SeaRobotics specialises in developing products and technology for the ocean and marine industries, producing autonomous, semi-autonomous and remote-control systems for commercial and government markets. The company selected an electric propulsion system from Torqeedo for its hybrid-electric Endurance 7.0 autonomous surface vessel (ASV).

The system is designed to provide up to six days on station at survey speeds for the 7m (23 ft) aluminium boat and up to 10 hours between automatic battery recharges from the onboard generator. The powertrain consists of a Torqeedo Deep Blue 50i electric motor, a 360 VDC 30.5 kW lithium propulsion battery, a water-cooled DC-DC converter, a 24 VDC lithium battery for DC-DC backup, and a 25 kW diesel generator. Recharging cycles are fully automatic under computer control.  The fully integrated computer-controlled propulsion system is designed for long-range unmanned hydrography and subsea mapping missions.

“Autonomous Surface Vessels are a perfect application for electric propulsion in terms of silent, emission-free performance and reliable, low-maintenance operation,” said Steve Trkla, president of Torqeedo, Inc. “Torqeedo also had extensive previous experience in working with ASV builders. The full range of Torqeedo drives, from 0.5 kW outboards up to the high-voltage 50 kW Deep Blue system, have been successfully integrated into ASVs by builders around the world.”

“Our power requirements for this Endurance 7.0 ASV were very specific,” said Don Darling, president of SeaRobotics. “The vessel required extended endurance on station as well as a quiet operating mode while performing acoustic research operations. The DeepBlue electric drive, with 80 horsepower-equivalent output, provides ample power for a wide range of towed or statically deployed systems. In addition, the smooth, continuous and rapid transition from forward to reverse thrust assists in station-keeping as well as near-dock manoeuvring.”

Darling continued, “Importantly, Torqeedo gave us the level of engineering and system integration support needed to create a fully meshed propulsion and control solution to meet our requirements for autonomous survey operations.” Darling noted that SeaRobotics is also using Torqeedo outboards on other ASVs.

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