Australian company Ocius Technology recently launched its 5.6 m Bluebottle Stinger Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV).
The autonomous drone was designed and engineered by a team of specialists including Ocius, One-2-Three Naval Architects and Composites Consulting Group (CCG). Drawing upon decades of experience with solar assisted sailing vessels, Ocius developed the Bluebottle Stinger to provide continuous unmanned surveillance of ocean waters. The USV can harvest energy from the sun via solar panels, from wind via a rigid wing sail, and from waves via a rudder that generates forward motion from vertical wave forces. The result is a vessel that is completely autonomous and can maintain an average speed of around 4 knots whilst carrying a payload in excess of 100 kg.
To create a vessel that operates efficiently it was important to reduce weight, but also to maintain the required durability to survive in all conditions at sea. To meet these challenges, CCG chose Diab’s HM80 IPN foam for the hull and keel shell, and Matrix 7-7 for the deck shell and removable hatch.
Designed by Australian CCG engineers to ISO 12215 Category A, the structures were constructed by Australian builder Steber International of hand-consolidated vinyl ester resin with E-glass reinforcements. For the prototype hull and keel shells, sheets of grid scored foam were temporarily attached to male forms creating the shape. The outer skins and reinforcements were applied and the shells removed from their moulds. The inner skins were then applied, creating a final, rigid shell.
The wing sail was built using non-structural EPS foam as a former attached to a hollow carbon mast tube. To create support structure for the former, horizontal ribs made from Matrix 7-7 foam were let into the EPS every 550 mm. These ribs allowed for a positive structural attachment to the mast and light carbon skin reinforcements.
Designed to automatically deploy a sonar array, the USV can monitor sub-surface traffic while also capturing video images from above the surface. Working with a fleet of other USVs, vast expanses of ocean can be monitored by a minimum of personnel who are only required to do periodic maintenance.
Image provided by Diab
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