Autonomous survey vessel for challenging conditions

Van Oord ordered in Demcon an unmanned autonomous survey vessel suitable for challenging offshore conditions.

Van Oord has placed a new order with Demcon unmanned systems. The scope is for an unmanned autonomous survey vessel suitable for challenging offshore conditions.


The DUS V5750 model has delivery expectance in one year. Aiming to support dredging operations, installing offshore wind farms, and constructing maritime infrastructure.

According to Demcon, the use of electric unmanned vessels enables Van Oord to make its operations; more sustainable, work more safely, and optimally deploy its employees.

The vessel platform will be able to sail much longer at sea than in inland water applications. Therefore, the autonomous survey vessel DUS V5750 will have more batteries. However, if this is not sufficient, a hybrid system can further extend the range at sea up to thirty days.

Besides cable-laying, potential opportunities are; support for coastal sand replenishment or for the deployment of drones for the inspection of wind turbines.

“The autonomous offshore inspection platform is with 6 meters in size a magnitude larger than the DUS V2500 model, must be able to sail at sea for several weeks and will incorporate new autonomous applications for unmanned offshore operationsIt contains our standardized and modular autonomous navigation system. We design and scale the hull, power and propulsion around this system based on client-specific performance criteria. Moreover, we will be adding new functionalities to better suit operational requirements.”

Fedor Ester, managing director of Demcon unmanned systems

Demcon will be developing a weather-dependent dynamic positioning functionality so the survey vessel can follow the cable-laying vessel. This functionality will ensure that the vessel’s nose points to the direction of the wind, currents, and waves. Hence, providing the least possible resistance.

“It is, therefore, possible that the vessel will be following the cable-laying vessel in a lateral position. While this may seem like an unnatural angle, this is more efficient and not a problem due to our own innovative Dynamic Positioning system,” 

Fedor Ester, managing director of Demcon unmanned systems

The vessel operates at short distances (150 meters) and in complex enclosed environments. Achieving this using, amongst others, 360-degree laser scanning technology with LiDAR sensors. 

Different types of cameras, radar, and electronic navigation chart data will be used. Therefore, allowing to look further away and in different weather conditions. The DUS collision avoidance system ensures that obstacles are identified and decides how to avoid them. Always in compliance with the rules that apply to sailing on the water.

In addition, the communication system will undergo expansion. The current vessels use a redundant WLAN and an LTE (4G/5G) datalink, while the DUS V5750 models will come with satellite communications included.

Source: Demcon

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