Seacat – an experimental autonomous surface vessel

Contact: Robert Rylander, robert.rylander@ri.se

Latest in project Seacat:

  • 9 – 11 June 2022, Seacat on display onboard R/V Skagerak, at ‘open ship‘ in Stockholm. 

The vessel Seacat

Construction. Seacat is manufactured by SP Marine Tech AB in Malmö. Seacat is a robust vessel built in steel, easy to modify. The vessel weighs around 900 kg. All power comes from the internal battery packages.

Demostrations. Seacat was demonstrated in November 2021, for recording only:

  • Precise autonomous navigation, close to objects.
  • Intuitive interface for operator.
  • Integration of Lidar and subsurface Blueview sonar, and cameras with lights (limited view at test site though…)

Seacat was demonstrated for the first time in May 2019, during an event arranged by Vinnova and Drone Center Sweden:

  • autonomous navigation along a preset route,
  • autonomous release of a towed sailing drone at preset location,
  • live streaming of 360 view from above surface cameras.

Development. Sensors and actuators for different tasks can be integrated. In 2021 we are upgrading Seacat with

  • a BlueView sonar,
  • two optical underwater cameras, with lights,
  • a LIDAR for precise navigation close to objects,
  • an improved interface for the operator,
  • SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping).

Risk minimization during inspection from the sea surface

Purpose and goal, 2021

Inspection and monitoring of marine facilities (eg ports, fish farms, wind farms) both above and below sea surface are an integral part of the facilities´ operations, and the focus on safety means that the need is increasing. However, working at sea near fixed objects entails great risks for personnel and therefore becomes expensive and weather-sensitive. With the Port of Gothenburg as the most important need owner, the Seacat project will complete a surface-going drone, which can perform inspections both above and below the surface in all weathers.

Expected results and effects, 2021

The product Seacat will provide significantly increased opportunities to inspect and monitor marine facilities, such as ports, fish farms and wind farms. This will be possible with a minimal risk to staff. In addition, it provides opportunities for reduced costs and increased and changed ambitions. The project will productify an open and already demonstrated platform, as well as give parties in industry and academia knowledge about development and opportunities in this area.

Planned approach and implementation, 2021

  • WP1. Projekt management.
  • WP2. Productification – software and system integration: Actuators, sensors, calculation nodes, navigation, connectivity, database, user interface. Stability, function test.
  • WP3. Platform with sensors and navigation systems:Purchase, assembly and testing / demonstrations of equipment. Practical technical tests and modifications of the drone, and operational tests.
  • WP4. Feedback, demonstration and dissemination of results: Feedback between needs owners and constructors. Workshops and demonstrations of ongoing work, with increasing complexity and realism.

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