IIT-Madras develops solar-powered unmanned survey craft for Indian ports

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on November 23, 2020

The craft was developed by a research team at the National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts in IIT-Madras

To provide real-time data transmission over long distances

In a boost to the indiginisation of Indian maritime sector, researchers at IIT-Madras have developed a solar-powered Unmanned Autonomous Survey Craft for Indian ports and inland waterways to undertake autonomous hydrographic and oceanographic surveys and provide real-time data transmission over long distances.

This system could be equipped with an echo sounder, GPS System, and broadband communication technology, capable of delivering precise depth measurements. In addition to the echo sounder and GPS system, it is possible to add additional oceanographic payloads (current and velocity measurements) and 360-degree camera, LiDAR, for seamless topography and bathymetry measurements.

Successful field-test

The craft had a successful field-test recently off the Chennai coast at Kamarajar port in North Chennai. Further field trials under harsher environments have been scheduled in November at Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata, said a press release from IIT-Madras.

The craft was developed by a research team at the National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts (NTCPWC) in IIT-Madras. The researchers are in the process of commercialising this technology with the help of the Union Shipping Ministry and IIT-Madras Incubation Cell.

K Murali, Professor in-Charge, NTCPWC, IIT-Madras, said this is a significant leap towards indigenisation of Indian maritime sector, which is currently dominated by foreign technology, and the craft is capable of delivering precise depth measurements, even in shallow waters. This will help meet the increasing demands for volume and efficiency as ships are becoming larger, with maximum loading, to ensure efficient operations.

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Murali, who is also the Head, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT-Madras, said the craft can undertake autonomous hydrography surveys at different times of the day to identify the navigable paths that can be used for operational window and navigational guidance.

The craft has been developed to carry out survey operations in areas such as ports, harbours, waterways, dams, lakes, lagoons and other shallow water zones. It can be operated in manual mode by a remote-control setup or as a fully autonomous vehicle.

The craft is fully solar-powered. It can endure five or more hours depending on user requirements, said Murali, who was part of the research team, along with NTCPWC’s principal scientists, D Leo and D Kumaran Raju, the release added.

Published on November 23, 2020

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