BMT Isis, a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd (BMT) and a leading supplier of safety and environmental risk management across sectors and Plymouth based MSubs Ltd, a principal supplier of manned and unmanned underwater submersibles for both military and commercial users are collaborating together to develop a fully instrumented Maritime Sea Range in which to test unmanned craft. A Memorandum of Understanding between the companies has been put in place while funding and permissions are secured.
Mike Prince, Managing Director at BMT Isis commented: “Unmanned Underwater, Surface and Air Vehicles (collectively known as UxVs) have been used extensively in military operations for many years but their application for commercial and humanitarian tasks has only recently started to come to the fore, made possible by a leap forward in technology & innovation”.
Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director at MSubs continued: “Currently, however, there is no readily available UK or EU based facility capable of enabling command, control and tracking of multiple unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles in an environment where oceanographic and meteorological data can be monitored and recorded concurrently with the test. This is no longer acceptable and a range in the South West is the most practicable location to place the range due to its low shipping density and access to local manufacturing infrastructure.”
The proposed maritime sea range will enable technology companies to test their vehicles and start to make important strides into delivering cooperative behaviours to compliment vehicles working in all domains be it air, surface or subsea.
The range areas that have been identified are ideal due to the local environmental conditions including low shipping density and the proximity of the military bases at Devonport and surrounding areas. The initiative should provide a focus on the South West as a hub for maritime technologies companies, and to attract UK and European customers to the region.
Jointly, BMT Isis and MSubs propose to develop a fully instrumented range which will enable operators to fully trial systems in realistic conditions, exercising full control over their vehicles and even changing test parameters mid-trial. The range will incorporate a series of sensors within fixed buoys or mobile platforms fitted with environmental sensors, sonar transducers, GPS and Wi-Fi for tracking, navigation, communications and data collection.
The marine equipment will be complemented with a mobile shore control facility with a radar tracking and communications linking into existing land based networks such as internet. The aim is to be able to provide both on site and remote access to UK, European and global customers to enable cost efficient use of this facility. Ultimately, the range will enable a series of UxVs working in the air, surface and subsurface domains to seamlessly coordinate with each other with little or no human intervention whilst being constantly monitored from the shore control facility.