Unmanned surface vehicle

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Britain's 32 ft (9.8 m) Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) from ASV being tested in London
A passenger USV demonstration at Hampton, Virginia, USA in January 2009
USV used in oceanographic research, June 2011

Unmanned surface vehicles (USV) or autonomous surface vehicles (ASV) are vehicles that operate on the surface of the water (watercraft) without a crew.

USVs are valuable in oceanography, as they are more capable than moored or drifting weather buoys, but far cheaper than the equivalent weather ships and research vessels,[1] and more flexible than commercial-ship contributions. Wave gliders, in particular, harness wave energy for primary propulsion[2] and, with solar cells to power their electronics, have months of marine persistence[3] for both academic [4][5] and naval applications.[6][7]

Powered USVs are popular for use in hydrographic survey. Using a small USV in parallel to traditional survey vessels as a 'force-multiplier' can double survey coverage and reduce time on-site. This method was used for a survey carried out in the Bering Sea, off Alaska; the ASV Global 'C-Worker 5' autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) collected 2,275 nautical miles of survey, 44% of the project total. This was a first for the survey industry and resulted in a saving of 25 days at sea.[8]

Military applications for USVs include powered seaborne targets and minehunting. Operational USVs with offensive capability include the Israeli Protector USV.[9]

In the future, many unmanned cargo ships are expected to cross the waters.[10]


Saildrone with NOAAS Oscar Dyson (R 224) in background

A saildrone is a type of autonomous watercraft used primarily in oceans for data collection.[11]


Specific craft or class:


  • Saildrone
  • Subsea Tech
  • Al Marakeb
  • ASV Global (Autonomous Surface Vehicles)
  • Marine Tech (RSV)
  • Liquid Robotics
  • Willow Garage
  • SimpleUnmanned, LLC
  • Universal Secure Applications OWL-MkII USV
  • Unmanned Survey Solutions (USS)
  • Marine Tech (RSV)
  • Willow Garage
  • SimpleUnmanned, LLC
  • Marine Advanced Research
  • Ocius Technology
  • Ocean Alpha




See also


  1. ^ Stevens Institute of Technology student USV Archived 2010-08-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Carbon Wave Glider". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Robot Boats Survive Epic Voyage Across the Pacific — So Far". WIRED. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  4. ^ Autonomous Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance of Unmanned Vessels in Simulated Rough Sea States. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2016 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Robotica - An experimental setup for autonomous operation of surface vessels in rough seas - Cambridge Journals Online". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  6. ^ This story was written Amanda D. Stein; Naval Postgraduate School Public Affairs. "NPS Acquires Two USVs, Opens Sea Web Lab for Expanded Undersea Warfare Research". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Information Dissemination: Eureka! Wave Glider". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  8. ^ Andrew Orthmann (2016-11-22). "Bering Sea ASV Force Multiplier". Hydro-international.com. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  9. ^ "Jerusalem Post, 4 Oct 2009". Archived from the original on 17 September 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  10. ^ "Unmanned cargo ships". Hellenic Shipping News. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Drones at sea: Unmanned vehicles to expand data collection from far-flung locales - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration". www.noaa.gov.
  12. ^ "Unmanned Surface Vehicle RSV". Marine Tech. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  13. ^ SAAB & P.T Lundin Bonefish USV concept at Indodefence 2014. 19 November 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2016 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ "Unmanned Surface Vessel". Saab Solutions. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Steering a course for unmanned vessels". InDaily. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Data". www.aph.gov.au.
  17. ^ "Saab Bonefish proceeds apace - News - Shephard". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Springer USV". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Unmanned Surface Vehicles". Retrieved 24 February 2016.

External links

  • OWL MK II First fielded Maritime Surface Vehicle
  • Universal Secure Applications
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