Some of you may have spotted this boat operating in the Solent area recently, with a busy array of electronics on top of a small hull! This is the latest trials and demonstration vessel from Robosys Automation, developers of Voyager autonomous navigation systems, built in close collaboration with Ring Powercraft, Ambex Marine and DTC, Domo Tactical Communications. The vessel is showcasing Robosys’ latest intelligent autopilot software for commercial and recreational vessels and demonstrations for a multitude of applications are being scheduled throughout the summer. The extensive testing programme has been focused on calibrating the system in busy and confined waters on a small platform to create the most challenging scenarios.

The ‘RoboRat’, designed for inshore reconnaissance/ survey, is the smallest offering from the new Ring Powercraft range of Unmanned Surface Vessels custom designed in collaboration with Robosys.  Fitted with SIMRAD navigational equipment and specialist electronics by Ambex Marine Ltd of Lancing, she has a powerful encrypted RF communications link provided by Domo Tactical Communications at Whiteley which allows remote piloting or live data streaming for analysis and evaluation.

The Voyager software takes information from the onboard chart system, radar, AIS and imagery to plan and execute a safe route entirely in accordance with the collision regulations (COLREGS). It can be calibrated to support any power-driven vessel from a supertanker to the 5m Roborat! You can incorporate it into an unmanned system, or enhance your existing autopilot – after all, why wouldn’t you want an intelligent autopilot? Robosys envisage this system being embraced by both commercial and recreational users.

The ‘RoboRat’ programme is focused on optimising the system in busy and confined waters on a small platform. Later this year, Robosys will be installing Voyager on two much larger ocean-going vessels for similar trials in a variety of environmental and operating conditions.

This collaboration with companies from around the Solent area is an important element of the Robosys ethos. Their CEO Aditya Nawab says:“We want to combine our software design with the best local expertise available, so we are delighted to be teaming up with Ring, Ambex and Domo Tactical Communications on this – demonstrating the fantastic strength in depth in high tech boatbuilding, electronics and innovation in the Solent area.”

David Jackson, CEO of Ring Powercraft, says: “Ring’s capabilities in delivering performance, economy and rough water handling are well suited to unmanned marine products. Robosys have assembled an outstanding group of specialists in this collaborative project which has created the opportunity for us to enter this sector with an innovative, integrated and state of the art solution.“

William Smith, CEO of Ambex Marine (whose exciting VSV 50 British Venture will hit the water shortly) says: “Ambex have been at the forefront of electronic navigation, marine communications and design services since 1975. This collaboration is a natural step forward and an exciting adjunct to our British Venture project. This is more than just a glimpse into the future: the future is right here!”

Nigel Lee, Vice president of Sales for Europe, Middle East and Asia at Domo Tactical Communications says: “We’ve been working with Robosys for several years now and are really delighted to be involved with this project, which will enable affordable, high quality, bespoke solutions across the marine marketplace. Our RF Mesh radio systems are perfect for exploiting this type of technology in unmanned applications – reliability is essential, so collaborating with this team is ideal.”

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