ULTRA-2 successfully completed functional sea trials in Newlyn Harbour following an upgrade of the autopilot system. The trials were carried out on a blustery February day with the USV performing a series of turns and line keeping tasks at varying headings throughout the day. The advanced autopilot integrates full control of the USV's thrusters, communications and onboard actuators for sonar deployment. ULTRA-2 is unique in that it can travel in any user defined direction or orientation and can hold position, turn on the spot, travel sideways, diagonally or simply travel forwards and backwards with exceptionally precise automatic line keeping. An entire survey line plan can be pre-programmed into the system and the USV then undertakes the survey at an appropriate pre-defined speed for each element or section of the survey. The USV provides the ability to run surveys at any precise speed between 0 and 4 knots irrespective of wind, tide or current. The ability to travel in any orientation is a significant advantage over conventional vessels as it allows optimisation of transducer geometry at all times during the survey. Gone are the days of making do with sub-optimal data due to poor line keeping or difficulty in holding position, this USV provides the perfect floating platform for high definition marine asset surveys.
Just to give some perspective, ULTRA-2 has similar dimensions to a small car, such as a Fiat 500, slightly wider but not quite as heavy at 450kg. The USV carries a bank of six 24v Lithium ion batteries and produces approximately 20 h.p through her four electric thrusters, sufficient to propel the vehicle in excess of 6 knots whilst travelling forwards.