Asia PacificSeaTechnology

New Zealand to Test Renewable Energy-Powered Unmanned Surface Vessel

The Royal New Zealand Navy is set to receive an unmanned surface vessel (USV) that can run completely on renewable energy.

Called “Bluebottle,” the Navy’s HMNZS Aotearoa is transporting it from Sydney to Auckland ahead of trials in New Zealand.

The boat can run on solar, wind, or wave power, utilizing a rigid sail to provide wind propulsion and photo-electric cells on the sail to drive its motor.

Designed by Sydney-based Ocius Technology, the watercraft offers the potential to undertake a wide variety of missions, including fishery protection, border protection, and meteorological data gathering.

The USVs’ Full Potential

Navy Maritime Component Commander Commodore Garin Golding said the unmanned vessel will play a large role in patrolling New Zealand’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Our EEZ is the fifth largest in the world at more than four million square kilometres. Coupled with the 30 million square kilometre search and rescue area that New Zealand has responsibility for, that is a lot of ocean to cover,” Golding shared.

“The evidence we’ve seen from our partner militaries overseas is that uncrewed drone aircraft and vessels can provide real value in fulfilling some of these search and surveillance tasks,” he added.

The USV will be operated from a control room at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, communicating with base personnel through mobile phone signals, as well as high- and low-bandwidth satellites for further coverage.

Bluebottle can also be transported by trailer to almost anywhere in New Zealand, launched and recovered via boat ramp during sea missions.

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