04/08/2014 Defence IQ
Ultra Electronics USSI has signed a strategic partnership with Liquid Robotics, a manufacturer of hybrid wave and solar propelled Unmanned Maritime Vehicles (UMVs), for the joint development of a revolutionary and cost effective surveillance system for the global maritime security market. The new product leverages the Liquid Robotics Wave Glider, the world’s first wave powered ocean robot, with Ultra Electronics USSI’s acoustic sensing and signal processing to provide a persistent, best of breed, surveillance capability.
This solution helps address the critical need for affordable, long duration, maritime surveillance of the world’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Exclusion Economic Zones (EEZs), ports and coastlines.
“Countries around the globe are losing valuable natural resources and economic opportunity without the ability to persistently patrol their coastlines, MPAs and EEZs,” said Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics. “This strategic partnership will bring to market a powerful solution with the ability to help close this gap globally.”
Liquid Robotics’ innovative propulsion and energy systems are designed to help customers explore portions of the world’s oceans in conditions that previously were too challenging or costly to operate. Potentially this means the military can use the vessels to monitor vast areas of water around the globe without utilising manpower and at negligible cost.
Bill Vass, President and CEO at Liquid Robotics, spoke to Defence IQ last year to discuss the company’s technology and how it can be exploited for military applications. The Wave Glider can be used for a range of different missions, but primarily the technology is a sensing platform.
“It can be used for battlespace softening … it can be used for protecting a fleet by listening for submarines or torpedoes, it can be used for anti-mine, it can be used for obviously reconnaissance, for providing security for specific areas, to patrol a specific location and provide an alarm if an acoustic, video or radar event occurs,” Vass explained.
Looking ahead, Vass expects countries to begin increasing their reliance on autonomous vehicles to enhance border security.
“Any country like Canada that has a small Navy and a large shoreline, or Australia or New Zealand or India or Brazil or South Africa, are all great targets for us … it’s a lot cheaper having robots patrolling your coastline than it is to have ships, from an economic perspective they can have many more points of presence at a much lower cost.”
The Brazilian Armed Forces patrol 4.4 million square kilometres of territorial waters and has a maritime salvage area which is one and half times the size of its land mass. With vast petroleum and gas deposits, as well as valuable mineral reserves, the Blue Amazon – which is what the Brazilian Navy calls the area of sea that it’s responsible for – is a vital strategic and economic resource for the South American giant. Notwithstanding the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016, Brazil is working towards increasing its surveillance management capabilities.