The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

May/Jun 2019


Flexible autonomy

Kongsberg Maritime continues to expand its offerings in the unmanned and autonomous vehicle segment with the introduction of the multipurpose Sounder unmanned surface vehicle

The Sounder has an endurance of up to 20 days at four knots

Kongsberg Maritime’s brand-new Sounder unmanned surface vehicle system is a uniquely versatile solution designed and built to provide the highest possible standard of data acquisition.

With the introduction of the system, Norway-based Kongsberg has strengthened its presence in the expanding market for unmanned vessels capable of carrying out a broad range of tasks. “The new USV makes best use of state-of-the-art technology derived from an extensive knowledge base, providing the flexibility to operate in various diverse scenarios,” the company says.

The Sounder USV system is a multipurpose platform designed to work across different market segments, including survey and fishery duties. It has been developed as a joint venture with Norsafe AS, Norway. Norsafe was chosen as the project partner, says Kongsberg, for its years of experience in constructing tough and durable craft for use in extreme environments.

As a brand-new platform, the Sounder USV has been configured from the keel upwards to deliver optimal hydroacoustic data quality, efficiency and productivity, according to Kongsberg. Operation of the USV is managed by the company’s K-MATE autonomous surface vehicle control system – capable of following survey patterns, autonomously following AUVs or simply tracking a mothership, the K-MATE system has been developed in partnership with FFI (the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment). It provides autonomous, supervised and direct control capabilities that are compliant with the latest safety regulations and operational guidance in the USV industry.


“Key to the Sounder USV system’s appeal is the fact that it can be put to work with equal effectiveness across a range of applications to suit the requirements of specific market sectors,” says Kongsberg. “It can be equipped with a wide selection of Simrad sensors including SX90 and ES80 fishery sonars as well as EM2040 multibeam echo-sounders for mapping and HiPAP positioning and communications systems for long baseline and AUV support. Other sensors can also be integrated, while rapid payload change can be effected as both the moon pool in the base of the hull and the 19-inch (48-centimetre) rack hardware are removable.”

The Sounder USV system is compatible with launch and recovery systems, making operation from ship or shore brisk and straightforward. With an endurance of up to 20 days at four knots, it enables increased productivity at a lower cost, says Kongsberg.

The company’s vice president of subsea sales, Stene Førsund, adds: “More and more businesses, from many categories within the maritime industry, are starting to see the vast and comparatively untapped potential of USVs as a means of autonomously and cost-effectively harvesting enormous quantities of high-quality data and with the highly adaptable Sounder USV system we’re poised to make the widespread availability of top-end data acquisition technology into an affordable and user-friendly reality.”





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