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American Bureau of Shipping issues ‘first ever’ autonomous vessel classification for Saildrone

Saildrone, a specialist in ocean data collection using autonomous vehicles, has received what it says is “the first-ever classification for an autonomous, uncrewed surface vehicle” (USV) from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

The Saildrone Voyager, the mid-class vehicle in Saildrone’s rapidly expanding fleet, is the first-ever commercial USV to receive classification. ABS has been setting rigorous standards for safety and excellence as one of the world’s leading classification organizations and is at the forefront of marine and offshore innovation.

Classification is a major milestone for Saildrone, allowing the Voyager to operate in the ports and waters of countries that require vessels to be classed by organizations such as ABS, and demonstrates Saildrone’s commitment to safety, standardization, and reliability in its technology and operations.

Richard Jenkins, CEO and founder of Saildrone, says: “Saildrone has spent three years maturing the Voyager design to be the industry leader in capability, reliability, and safety in the uncrewed vehicle sector.

“This classification from the American Bureau of Shipping defines the new gold standard for uncrewed systems and underscores the maturity of our technology.”

The Voyager carries an impressive payload for coastal ocean mapping operations, including high-resolution MBES and Innomar SBP systems, and is the only survey USV that can deliver long-duration multibeam mapping surveys meeting the highest industry standards. Its ISR sensor suite includes a smart camera array, digital radar, and sub-surface passive acoustics.

Saildrone USVs are equipped with a suite of sensors and instruments, enabling them to collect a wide range of ocean data above and below the sea surface. They are primarily powered by wind and solar energy, making Saildrone USVs an environmentally friendly solution for long-duration ocean data missions.

Patrick Ryan, ABS senior vice president and chief technology officer, says: “Uncrewed drone vehicles have huge potential to change the way we operate at sea and are a first step towards commercial autonomous vessels.

“ABS is a leader in this space, working with key partners all over the world to support the development and adoption of the technologies and strategies autonomous shipping will be built on. Saildrone Voyager is exciting technology and a key milestone on the road to more autonomous operations and we are proud to be able to use our experience to support it.”

Earlier last summer, ABS granted Approval in Principal, which helps clients evaluate the feasibility of their designs, for the Voyager and the larger 20-meter (65-foot) Surveyor platform.

With the classification for the Voyager now in place, Saildrone is expanding data delivery for scientific organizations, government agencies, and commercial partners.

By harnessing the power of renewable energy and autonomous technology, Saildrone is revolutionizing the way ocean data is collected and utilized for science, commercial, and defense applications worldwide.

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