• Ocius' Bluebottle USV, nicknamed 'Bruce', in Sydney Harbour. Credit: Ocius
    Ocius' Bluebottle USV, nicknamed 'Bruce', in Sydney Harbour. Credit: Ocius

Ocius Technology and Sentient Vision Systems announced at the 2019 Defence Innovation Hub Annual Industry Conference their collaboration to combine optical object detection onto the BlueBottle unmanned surface vessel (USV).

Both companies have been awarded separate multi-million dollar contracts by the Defence Innovation Hub to further enhance those capabilities.

Sentient Vision is the only Australian provider of ISR solutions that has been part of every Australian UAS program to date. The inclusion of Sentient Vision’s ViDAR payload enhances the Ocius Technology autonomous BlueBottle USV platform’s persistent monitoring and surveillance capability.

“Australia is responsible for 11% of the world’s oceans and has only 0.3% of the world’s population,” Robert Dane, CEO of Ocius Technology, said. “We are committed to providing a capable, autonomous, persistent wide-area maritime surveillance system for our nation. BlueBottles can carry out maritime surveillance of Australia’s vast coastline at disruptively low cost, with no one in harm’s way and freeing up the Navy and Border Force fleets for other tasks.”

ViDAR, the world’s first optical radar, can conduct persistent wide area searches, autonomously detecting small objects on the ocean’s surface, from a very small size weight and power optical sensor on manned and unmanned platforms.

In November 2018 BlueBottle USV 'Bruce' participated in the Autonomous Warrior War games in Jervis Bay. Due to extreme weather Bruce was often the only USV operating and its Command & Control (C2) system was used to control a Navy WAMV catamaran and 2 DSTG UUVs.

Ocius successfully demonstrated the ability of an 18’ BlueBottle USVs to carry 300kg of sensors including deploying from Ocius’ patented keel winch to varying depths advanced Thales sonar arrays, detecting passing vessels and communicating real time results.

In June, Ocius completed its second Defence contract with the Defence Innovation Hub with 6 weeks of sea trials ‘over the horizon’ off the NSW Coast, working with Navy, DST Gp, AMSA and UNSW - demonstrating an intelligent Command and Control Network of persistent unmanned surface vessels.

“Sentient is proud of our continued close collaboration with the Australian Government. From our origins in the Defence Science and Technology Group’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program, through Defence Innovation Hub contracts, to our proud history of active deployments in support of the ADF, we see the inclusion of our wide area motion imagery payload as a part of the BlueBottle USVs as a reinforcement of Australian leadership in advanced autonomous systems,” Damien Tyrrell, Director of Business Development at Sentient Vision Systems, said.

ViDAR is deployed with the Australian Navy, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the US Coast Guard, and the US State Department.

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