USVs and Intelligent Ship

Unmanned surface vessels (USVs) or autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) are a rapidly expanding area of interest for navies and commercial enterprises around the world. Cambridge Pixel is at the forefront of developing technology modules for uncrewed boats and autonomous ships, partnering with major USV developers and manufacturers across the US, Europe and Asia.

USVs find a multitude of uses, from mine hunting/sweeping to scientific research and surveying. It may be desirable to use a USV on projects that require long periods at sea or when conditions are simply too dangerous for manned craft. Uncrewed or autonomous vehicles can be much cheaper to deploy than manned vessels, while at the same time offering operational benefits, such as extended operating periods.

A USV may incorporate a number of sensing technologies to assist with navigation, collision avoidance and target recognition. Our expertise and products for radar processing provide a core set of capabilities for USV developers, including:
■  Interfacing to a wide range of maritime and specialist radars
■  A highly configurable target tracker
■  Fusion of tracks from multiple radars and auxiliary data such as AIS and ADS-B, as well as Spynel® video track data
■  Camera control from radar, slew-to-cue and video-based tracking
■  Mission recording of radar video, tracks, AIS, video and navigation data
■  Display applications for remote monitoring
■  Simulation and training
■  Protection against GPS signal loss

A feature of many unmanned boats is their ability to navigate round obstacles autonomously. While the position of stationary objects such as land and buoys may be known ahead of deployment, the dynamic position of other ships and vehicles must be sensed as the USV moves. Radar is fundamental to detecting potential obstacles at significant ranges. Extracting and tracking targets from radar video is a core competence of Cambridge Pixel.

Many USV applications require the ability to send radar video, track data and camera video back from the USV to a "mothership", via a wireless link. The link between the USV and mothership may typically be a low bandwidth microwave or satellite connection, presenting a significant challenge for reliable data sending. Cambridge Pixel has software modules that allow the excellent use to be made of the available bandwidth.

On the mothership, receipt and display of the data sent from the USV is a fundamental requirement. It may also be necessary to control the local processing on the USV, and possibly also the sensors themselves, remotely. Cambridge Pixel has field-proven software components that can provide each of these capabilities too.

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