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Navy team develops USV for critical incident support

A detail view of the MERV USV developed by technicians at HMAS Cerberus to enhance critical incident response. Photo: Defence

A team of RAN enthusiasts supported by the Navy’s own innovation centre has built an operational Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) for the Navy which they intend to showcase at EX Autonomous Warrior later this year. HMAS Cerberus’ Robotics Club has built a USV prototype that can provide Navy warships with live video footage during a critical incident, boosting response times to that incident.

Known as a Marine Evolutions Response Vessel (MERV), it has the ability to autonomously patrol incident areas, with the video footage fed back to a ship for viewing by command, enabling them to make more informed decisions.

Head of the robotics club, Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Allan Winning, said the USV could be used for things like a man overboard incident, patrolling naval waters, intercepting and interrogating trespassing vessels and towing targets for live firing.

MERV was developed using lessons learned from the club’s Critical Response Vehicle Project and is a scaled-down version of Navy’s current seaboat.

The land-based prototype is made from plywood and fibreglass and propelled by a 3D-printed water-cooled brushless motor made at the Centre for Innovation at Fleet Base East.

“Being able to produce these components through these emerging technologies has allowed the robotics club to test designs in conjunction with safety considerations and refine the final product,” Chief Petty Officer Winning said.

“This has allowed us to move forward in implementing this system to display at this year’s Autonomous Warrior event.”

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