Patrick Durrant | Sydney
On 10th August, Ocius Technology and Thales Australia successfully demonstrated the solar, wind and wave powered prototype Bluebottle unmanned surface vessel (USV) in combination with a Thales thin line array on 60m of cable off the coast of NSW, near Jervis Bay.
In September 2015, Defence invested $2.85 million in Ocius Technology to develop the demonstration, under Round 19 of the Defence Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Program. The CTD program has since transitioned to the Defence Innovation Hub.
We've been encouraged to apply for the CTD Extension
CDF Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin attended the demonstration along with a group of senior naval officers, DST Group and Defence personnel.
Ocius CEO Robert Dane said the response from those attending had been extremely positive.
“Together with Thales, we'll now submit our report to Strategic Policy and Intelligence (SP&I) Group – we've been encouraged to apply for the CTD Extension,” he said.
Bruce races the support vessel back to HMAS Creswell after the demonstration off Jervis Bay. Credit: Ocius Technology via YouTube
He was particularly pleased at the performance of Bluebottle, also known as Bruce, under conditions that were far from ideal.
“It was a pretty wild out there, we had a 30 knot westerly and a sea state of three to four but the array performed really well,” Dane said. “Because Bruce was so quiet compared with other larger vessels deploying arrays, the array performed above expectations.”
Ocius will now focus on Autonomous Warrior 2018, a global unmanned systems demonstration that will be conducted at Jervis Bay with participants joining from around the world.
“We plan to have two to three networked Bluebottles at that event operating both active and passive arrays,” Dane said.
An extended ocean going trial is planned in the near term, and Dane mentioned oil and gas surveyors had expressed interest in Bluebottle conducting some sea bed mapping and pipeline survey work.
Ocius Technology will be attending the forthcoming Pacific Maritime Expo in Sydney in October, and hopes to have Bruce on display at their stand in Hall 1 within the AIDN precinct. For more on the company and unmanned maritime systems, see ADM's recent August edition.