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USCG completes 30-day USV test

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has completed a 30-day demonstration and evaluation of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) off Oahu, Hawaii.

According to the USCG, the focus of the test was to explore how current and emerging technologies might be used to enhance maritime domain awareness in remote regions. It also showed ways USVs with assorted sensor capabilities might support the USCG’s missions around the world, ranging from search and rescue to law enforcement.

‘It’s clear that autonomous technology is a growing industry, and has great potential to enhance Coast Guard operations,’ said Cmdr. Blair Sweigart, the demonstration’s director from the Coast Guard Research and Development Center. ‘Combined with artificial intelligence algorithms, unmanned systems could be a game changer.’

During the test, the Coast Guard examined USVs from Saildrone and Spatial Integrated Systems to understand their capabilities and effectiveness. The USVs participated in a variety of operational simulations to detect and alert the Coast Guard to both legitimate and nefarious behaviour.

The test is also said to have allowed the USCG to identify how USVs could be used to support search and rescue operations, improve Marine Environmental response, enhance Port Security, aid in the fight against illegal maritime smuggling, and identify vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

‘The demonstration helped us understand what these technologies currently are, and are not, capable of,’ said Sweigart. ‘These vessels proved to be very effective across a variety of mission areas. The results of this study will help shape how the Coast Guard, and our partners, incorporate USVs into our future operations.’

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry