In a significant advancement for the uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) industry, Saildrone has announced that its Saildrone Voyager has received the first-ever class certificate from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for a commercial, uncrewed surface vehicle. This milestone marks a new era in maritime standards, showcasing Saildrone's commitment to safety and excellence in maritime operations.
ABS, a 150-year veteran in shaping maritime safety and excellence standards, has played a pivotal role in certifying the 10-meter (33-foot) Voyager. This certification means that the Voyager can now operate in the ports and waters of countries where vessel classification by an organization like ABS is mandatory. Richard Jenkins, CEO and founder of Saildrone, highlighted the three-year effort to mature Voyager's design, emphasizing this classification as a testament to their technology's reliability and safety.
The Voyager, a medium-sized platform in Saildrone's expanding fleet, boasts impressive capabilities for coastal ocean mapping and defense applications. Equipped with high-resolution multibeam echo sounders (MBES), side-scan sonars, and a suite of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, the Voyager is uniquely positioned for long-duration multibeam mapping surveys and a variety of defense missions.
Saildrone's USVs stand out for their environmentally friendly design, primarily powered by wind and solar energy. This green approach is particularly crucial for long-duration ocean data missions, aligning with global sustainability goals.
The concept of 'class' in maritime operations dates back to the 1700s, setting standards for vessel design and manufacturing to ensure safe sea operations. The ABS, a global leader in marine and offshore innovation, granted the Voyager its classification after a comprehensive evaluation process. This move by ABS is not just an endorsement of the Saildrone Voyager but also signifies a step towards the broader adoption of autonomous maritime technologies.
Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, recognized the transformative potential of uncrewed drone vehicles like the Voyager in changing maritime operations. He noted ABS’s commitment to supporting the development of these emerging technologies.
Saildrone's mission to explore, map, and monitor the ocean for better understanding and preservation aligns with the growing need for sustainable and innovative maritime solutions. The Voyager's classification paves the way for expanding Saildrone's data delivery capabilities to various entities, including scientific organizations, government agencies, and commercial partners. With more than a dozen Voyager-class vehicles already deployed for maritime security and ocean mapping missions, Saildrone is poised to make a significant impact in the way ocean data is collected and used across the globe.