On December 6, during the Shanghai Maritime Exhibition, China Classification Society (CCS), Zhuhai Municipal Government and Wuhan University of Technology, together with Oceanalpha, jointly launched the world's first small unmanned vessel project. The small unmanned vessel named "Cloudborne", which means sailing over the "cloud" and intelligent autonomous operation.
"Cloudborne" is planning for the 500-ton, hull length of 50 meters, the use of electric propulsion and endurance power is 500 nautical miles. Compared to large ocean-going vessels, small unmanned vessels will be completed in the design, construction and testing tasks soon and are expected to launch by the end of 2018. In 2019, they will be the first to achieve commercial operations globally and open the door to unmanned shipping around the world.
Sun Feng, vice president of China Classification Society, introduced the four characteristics of the project to the media. First, "Cloudborne' has been designed from the beginning to take into account the actual use of the environment, it is not just for trial, but for practical commercial use; Second, in addition to driverless and autonomous control technologies, the “Cloudborne” also uses a pure battery powered system which is very forward-looking application; Thirdly, the communication and navigation system is the Beidou system that is independently developed and designed by our country and is closely integrated with our space technology. Fourthly, at present, all the conventions adopted by the international conventions are all 500-tonne ones. So, the 500-tonne grade selected for the "Cloudborne" also sets the corresponding international standards for the future and provides the corresponding basis. This is also the great significance of this USV.”
In the conference, the founder of Oceanalpha Zhang Yunfei introduced, "Cloudborne" project team is committed to solving intelligent autonomous shipping module which is the core part. Unmanned ships are as hard as unmanned vehicles, with the exception of ships that are harder to control at sea than cars on land, it as well as need to resolve the problem of collision avoidance and autonomous planning of routes. Currently, our existing unmanned platform has been achieved to avoid obstacles intelligently and intelligent navigation. We started the unmanned technology in military and marine areas as early as in 2008, and the present unmanned industry in shipping only emerged in this year, so we have accumulated 10 years of technology.
Zhang Yunfei said in an interview that the small USV cargo ship was designed and constructed in full accordance with the unmanned cargo ship inspection specifications issued by China Classification Society and is mainly used for inland navigation and island supply. Next, we will promote the design, construction, testing, delivery and automatic driving technology, related specifications and management improvement of ships in a multi-dimensional and synchronous manner to form a commercial closed loop. "It is expected to be launched by the end of 2018 and achieve commercial operations globally in 2019."
In support of the R & D testing needs of small unmanned vessels, the project team, with the support of Zhuhai municipal government, will establish an industrial ecological platform based on ship's pilotless operation. These include unmanned maritime testing ground, automatic mooring terminals, maritime communications and network security and other infrastructure to meet different types of unmanned boats in multi-scene, multi-dimensional testing needs and provide data and operational support for future unmanned shipping. Following Norway's first unmanned marine test site in the world, Zhuhai Wanshan Islands unmanned marine test site is the second one in the world second, and the first in Asia.
Before the release of "Cloudborne", the remote control technology that is particularly crucial for unmanned navigation in Oceanalpha has become mature. The unmanned shipping control center will be completed in advance. Oceanalpha in Tangjia Bay, Zhuhai, the construction of unmanned scientific and technological port, is China's first unmanned vessel R & D test base. It will provide unmanned research and development, marine intelligence equipment testing and innovative incubation of "production and research" integrated service platform in 2018.
Based on the unmanned technology port, Oceanalpha has built a wireless broadband private network covering the Pearl River estuary of the Pearl River Delta. Combined with the public network, it has built a "long-range linkage platform" that connects many places so as to realize theremote control of unmanned aerial vehicle.
In the future, with the progress of the small unmanned shipping project, the boat masters from the Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and Tai Wan areas will not have to wait on the boat. They only need to sit in the unmanned craft port of unmanned navigation control center, taking a look at the screen, kicking the keyboard; then they can remotely control the cargo ships from the Pearl River estuary and make sea transport business easily.