Ørsted Launches Its Own Uncrewed Surface Vessel for Metocean Campaigns, USV Also Validated as Floating LiDAR
Ørsted has designed and developed its own uncrewed surface vessel (USV) for offshore metocean measurement campaigns. The USV has also achieved DNV’s type validation as a floating LiDAR system and is set to enter serial production.
The company, whose employees invented the concept which has now been patented, says its vessel is the first USV in the industry for offshore metocean measurement campaigns and that with a broad range of measurements it is able to collect, it is essential for Ørsted’s early-phase development activities prior to the construction of new offshore wind farms.
“What’s so special about our USV concept is that it can bring our measurement equipment to and from our offshore sites without the need for large, specialised support vessels, and, while on site, it can operate autonomously for extended periods of time, measuring large amounts of data that can be sent onshore and processed in real time”, said Frederik Søndergaard Hansen, Programme Manager and co-inventor of the USV concept.
“The USV concept enables Ørsted to obtain a consistently high data availability, which is essential for achieving the highest possible certainty regarding the annual energy production for new offshore wind farms”.
The USV has a built-in navigation system, which enables it to transit from shore at various degrees of autonomy, and it can be controlled remotely.
The vessel is designed as a generic sensor platform and can collect large amounts of data on, among other things, the wind conditions, the state of the seabed, and biological and ecological measurements, all dependent on the sensor instrumentation chosen for a given operation, according to the company.
The design, development, construction, and testing of the prototype, named Hugin USV, was conducted as part of Ørsted’s innovation programme in collaboration with selected industry partners. The prototype was built by the Danish shipbuilder Tuco Marine Group and the USV control system is delivered by the innovative Norwegian company Maritime Robotics.
Hugin USV has been tested in Danish and Norwegian waters and has been operational during hurricane conditions, where it experienced waves up to nine metres in the North Sea, Ørsted says.
The prototype has also achieved type validation as a floating LiDAR system by the classification society DNV, enabling it to be used for commercial operations related to wind farm development.
Based on the learnings from the prototype, Ørsted has started serial production of a new class of USVs, which will have broader operational capabilities to include deepwater operations for future floating wind farms.
The USVs in the new class are also constructed by Tuco Marine Group, with the control systems delivered by Maritime Robotics.
Ørsted expects to produce five new USVs by the end of this year.
According to the company, the USV has several advantages over conventional solutions that use support vessels to bring measurement equipment to offshore sites and has significantly lower costs of conducting offshore measurement campaigns. For Ørsted, the concept is also providing increased flexibility through internal ownership and operation of the USVs, the company noted.
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