March 11, 2020, Hamburg Germany A 1.65-meter-long water drone, also known as unmanned surface vehicle(USV), was christened on Wednesday morning. The USV named Echo.1 is dedicated to measure water depth and can work continuously for up to six hours without emissions.
The Echo.1 is based on OceanAlpha’s SL40 USV while Kongsberg, a Norwegian marine products company, developed the survey package.
Baptized in the port of Hamburg
Senator for Economic Affairs Michael Westhagemann and Jens Meier, Managing Director of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), Rike Verheye from the HPA Hydrography christened the yellow drone.
According to HAP, Echo.1 will be able to travel up to six hours at a time in the harbor to improve the understanding of the water depths and provide information about the condition of the quay walls. With its length of only 1.65 meters, the drone can also explore areas that were previously difficult to reach.
USV is checked on land
There is no captain on board, but sonar, cameras and satellite signals navigate the USV. The course of the USV is monitored on land using a monitor, said Meier. “We are testing autonomous driving on the water here in real operation. To do this, we want to get the port customers used to the fact that such vehicles are in the port here between the normal ships with human captains.”
Autonomous vehicles soon normal?
Tests had started in August 2019. “Drones have rapidly developed into highly complex technical systems that will take on many useful tasks in the near future – in the air and here on the water,” said Westhagemann. Harbor captain Jörg Pollmann also expressed himself confidently: “I am sure that this, perhaps currently still unfamiliar, sight of an autonomously driving vehicle in the port of Hamburg will soon become normal and ‘echo.1’ will not remain alone for long.” Another drone for 70,000 euros is to follow.
The USV solution is from the combined work of OceanAlpha, a leading USV manufacturer with 10 years experience, and Kongsberg, a world-famous Norwegian marine products company.