Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV’s) are anticipated to play an important role in future Naval systems. These vary from very small systems deployed by hand from boats, to very large vessels, as large as a manned battleship, but operated entirely remotely.
FTL has ongoing work with the Navy to develop state-of-the-art shipboard sensor systems including sea-surface radar, inertial measurement with accelerometers and gyroscopes, and night-vision thermal cameras, to provide situational awareness to the navigation systems of the USV. In addition, this data informs a comprehensive model of the ocean surface and how approaching waves will adversely affect the stability and safety of the USV. The resulting “BotSwain” system can take control of the USV to ensure vessel safety and uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence and ship simulation.
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FTL’s BotSwain work draws upon years of experience modeling and visualizing the ocean surface based on meteorological, geographic, and bathymetric inputs. In particular, FTL personnel worked with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a comprehensive near-shore wave modeling software tool called “Simulated Wave Visualizer” or “SWAV”. This software used ocean wave-modeling techniques developed for computer generated special effects in Hollywood to provide a realistic experience of offshore waves for training operators of amphibious vessels and to provide situational awareness for beach operations. This has involved understanding meteorological and bathymetric drivers of breaking waves, including wave directional wave spectra, and detailed, dynamic 3D models of overspilling and tubular breaking waves.
FTL has extensive experience developing payload systems for Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) including extensive fluid modeling of the flow and mixed-phase environment surrounding a moving submarine. This has included unique calculations, models, and experimental testing of large bubble plumes in pipes, pools, and open ocean. In particular, FTL has investigated the existence and use of pressure effects from bubble plumes and moving vessels detected by custom undersea pressure sensor arrays, and verified through computational fluid dynamics calculations.