• Bob the Bluebottle. Credit: Ocius Technologies
    Bob the Bluebottle. Credit: Ocius Technologies

Ocius Technologies' unmanned surface vessels (USVs) have successfully demonstrated their ability to work as an autonomous team off the south coast of NSW.

In a statement, the company said that the tests of 'team behaviours' and 'intelligent networking' involving Bluebottle USVs 'Bob' and 'Bruce' occurred last week near Ulladulla under a Defence Innovation Hub contract.

"The first scenario completed last week, ‘Bob’ and ‘Bruce’ were joined by 3 simulated Bluebottle USVs to demonstrate how a team of 5 Bluebottles can patrol and guard an asset in the ocean," the statement said. "Ulladulla Marine Rescue greatly assisted by having one of their vessels act as a suspected illegal intruder driving at 12 knots in the vicinity of the patrolled area.

"When one team member, in this case ‘Bruce', detected the intruder he broadcasts his ‘local view’ to the ‘team view’. Another member of the team, in this case Bob, autonomously decided that he was the best positioned member of the team to go and ‘investigate’.

"Bob then broadcast his intention to ‘investigate’ the suspicious vessel to his teammates and began moving to intercept the intruder. The other members of the team on hearing Bob’s decision began moving to continue covering the area left in Bob’s absence.

"Finally, the network raised an alarm to a ‘human on the loop’ at mission control. This all happened autonomously, without human intervention, and in less than a second."

The Bruce class of USV offer 300 kg of payload capacity, 50W of power with eight hours of sunlight, a 100m keel winch for undersea sensors, the ability to launch and recover from a conventional boat ramp, and more.

In late 2018, Ocius won a $1.7 million contract from Defence to determine the viability of an intelligent command and control network of persistent unmanned surface vessels.

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