TideWise and STABLE have announced successful testing of their ARIEL project, which saw a drone autonomously take off from the USV Tupan. The drone is housed on the tiny crewless ship to monitor and detect oil spills.
The trial was done all the way back in December 2020, with the announcement only being made this week by the companies. The USV Tupan drone boat was equipped with a stabilized launch pad from STABLE, which allowed the drone to stay flat no matter the conditions on the water.
The two companies also got the help of Repsol Sinopec Brasil through the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels financing scheme to complete the trials.
The drone and the ship communicated with one another to share key information like their location in an effort to make landing a little easier. Once the drone was close enough to the USV Tupan, a bottom-facing camera on the drone detected the landing pattern on the landing pad, which it knows is where it’s supposed to land.
From there, the drone slowly maneuvers its way down to the boat and slowly touches down to prevent damaging anything or falling overboard.
Rafael Coelho, managing director of TideWise, shared:
“One of the project’s main challenges was accomplishing a safe UAV landing on a moving USV. Based upon a bespoken flexible design, low power consumption, long-time stabilization references, and a proactive engineering team – the STABLE platform was selected for our project as it removed most of the rolling and pitching motions for securing a successful landing.”
While STABLE is the perfect partner for this program, its technology isn’t used very often with drones. Interestingly it is known for its STABLE Billiard. A pool table mounted to one of its plates to keep it stable and playable. The company has its STABLE Billiard in many cruise ships and luxury yachts.
Rune M. Eriksen, CSO & partner at STABLE, added:
“It has been a unique experience for STABLE to adopt our stabilization technology onboard a boat of less than 5m [in] length. The professional TideWise team was a pleasure to work with, and the combined resources and intellect successfully enabled autonomous drone operation on a small vessel.”
The trial hopes to see drones and boats working together like this in the future. A drone can take off with ease without human interaction and complete oil spill checks thanks to the stable platform. This type of system will allow ports and companies to ensure ships aren’t dropping oil and, if it is, respond quicker.
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