Nortek’s DVL is typically used below the sea surface to inform the position of autonomous or uncrewed vehicles. Instead, UK-based designer and builder of hi-tech USVs SEA-KIT chose to use a DVL on their USV while operating from the sea surface. Utilizing uncrewed platforms in operations for the offshore energy sector means that requirements for navigational redundancy and oceanographic information are becoming intertwined.
Varied requirements such as these can blur the lines of sensor specification, meaning that what might spring to mind as the most obvious choice for some is not always the best tool for the job. As part of a project running over spring and summer 2021, SEA-KIT worked with a number of sensor providers to demonstrate extended capabilities of their USVs. A crucial part of this process was technical insight from those involved to narrow down the most suitable sensors for their application.
Using a DVL from Nortek to aid safe USV vehicle operations and autonomy
Following discussions around sensor choice, Nortek and SEA-KIT decided on a DVL – a sensor typically used for subsea navigation – to enable navigation in GPS-denied zones, improving reliability of uncrewed operations.
“Addition and integration of new sensors are part of SEA-KIT’s constant focus on safe operations and our drive towards full autonomy. The DVL from Nortek has proven to be a highly capable tool which we will continue to use to help us achieve these ambitious targets,” says Ashley Skett, Operations Director at SEA-KIT.
A DVL helps robust navigation performance of USV vehicles
By interfacing Nortek’s DVL500 with an Inertial Navigation System from iXblue to provide speed over ground measurements, SEA-KIT were able to equip their 12 m USV Maxlimer with an alternative to satellite navigation. This capability is becoming increasingly important in a world where GPS signals cannot be guaranteed in all locations. Having a non-GPS-reliant navigation source ensures robust performance of vehicles in virtually all conditions, using technology that until recently has been the reserve of the subsea industry.