A new, high-performing USV for ocean surveying

Nortek China’s USV uses the Signature VM system, which includes the Signature500 ADCP.
A new unmanned surface vehicle (USV) designed for the Chinese market offers an open and low-cost platform to measure water current and direction. Nortek China has integrated Doppler instrumentation on the vehicle to help better meet user requirements for ocean surveying.

The new USV has an IPC (Industrial Personal Computer) as the main operation platform and uses Remote Desktop, a remote control technique, to communicate with all the instruments installed. This means that the vehicle offers an open and low-cost platform for customers who need to carry out several different tasks at the same time. For example, users can perform hydrology and water quality measurement while simultaneously obtaining water samples. Furthermore, the USV can carry other appropriate instruments, for example for geomorphology.  

Flexible system setup and design

The basic exterior dimensions of the vehicle are about 200 cm length, 70 cm width and 40 cm depth. The USV has two propellers that can produce 80 pounds of thrust force. For navigation control, it can be remotely controlled manually, or be programmed to sail automatically by itself. The design of the vehicle can be adjusted according to different requirements from end users.

“The demand for USVs is growing in China now, and China is a great market in itself. With Nortek having launched the Signature VM system here already, we should grasp this opportunity to open the vessel-mounted current measurement market in China,” says Leon Zhang, General Manager of Nortek China.

Nortek China’s USV uses the Signature VM system, which includes the Signature500 ADCP. The USV also uses the EXO system for water quality measurement and has a high-definition camera sensor.

High-performing USV at a low cost

The new USV is characterized by good sailing performance and excellent stability. A powerful propeller provides propulsion when needed. IPC control and Remote Desktop help simplify the operation of the vehicle. The vehicle also stands out due to its low cost and easy integration of multiple sensors and instruments.

Testing the USV’s systems in a bay near Qingdao, China. The test includes boat stability (by hauling/dragging the vehicle) and communication quality.

“This USV platform was built to help users to handle multiple tasks, and to be able to do this at a low cost. Looking ahead to the future, we will develop an automatic and ‘intelligent’, or sophisticated, system to improve the performance of the USV,” says Jack Hu, Technical Manager at Nortek China.

His colleague Nick Ying, a Field Engineer at Nortek China, explains how his team has been able to achieve excellent quality: “Only the best parts and accessories were selected for the vehicle. There is also the possibility of producing tailored design solutions for different customers’ needs,” he explains. 


Instruments in use


  • Vessel-mounted current profiler

    Signature VM

    The Signature VM package delivers vessel-mounted AD2CP capabilities based on present-day technology
  • CURRENT PROFILER

    Aquadopp Profiler 2 MHz

    Small and compact, short-range current profiling; option for PUV wave measurements
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