The ocean domain is immense and often requires operation of multiple vessels for convoy operations or broad area coverage. But crewing multiple vessels is onerous and costly, and operating in measured tandem proximity over long durations is extremely difficult.
Force multiplier effect
A vessel outfitted with autonomy can perform missions collaboratively with another vessel, giving operators a force multiplier of significantly increased productivity or reduced effort. The technology enables an autonomous craft to maintain a position, heading and speed relative to the other vessel, and the position can be modified while underway. For many voyages or missions, multi-vessel operations are necessary, and may include convoying, multi-vessel survey swaths, tandem oil-spill boom towing, offshore asset movements or positioning or fish-farm equipment installations. In many of these operations, precision of operation is key to success and autonomous systems provide the reliability and confidence over comparable manual effort.
Minimally manned and unmanned modes
Minimally manned and unmanned collaborative autonomous vessels reduce the resources required, helping to lower operational costs and reduce the number of stop-work periods. Unmanned vessels can collaborate 24/7 through most conditions. A single shoreside operator can command multiple autonomous boats with full situational awareness.