If you’re someone who takes to the sea regularly, you’ll understand the importance of technology on every trip. Where once, we looked solely to the stars and constellations to find our way around, now we have the equipment to plan, map and keep ourselves safe at sea. Our world is constantly evolving along with new technology, all aiming to make our lives easier. And, autonomous marine systems are no exception. These modern tools have been implemented by businesses of all sizes to better improve communication and safety. This guide will give you a better understanding of this term and whether you need to consider upgrading your vessel.

What are autonomous marine systems?

Autonomous Marine Systems, including those we have here at Pinpoint Electronics, are machines that use intelligent technology that constantly learns from and improves with every single mission. These machines also operate independently from human interaction, minimising the risk of error and improving productivity.

Why are they so important?

The reasons for autonomous systems are endless. Many marine-based businesses rely on them heavily, turning away from traditional methods to systems that promise exceptional accuracy and precision. Some of the benefits of autonomous marine systems include:

24/7 Monitoring

Throughout history, the safety of crews on-board vessels was largely dictated by human monitoring. One person would be tasked with keeping watch, ensuring the ship was able to pass through to its final destination without issue. This raises a number of complications – namely those produced through human error. Our eyesight is only so good, our concentration only spans for so many hours and our bodies require rest to function. Therefore, it is inevitable that human intervention cannot possibly hope to eliminate all risk.

Autonomous systems run independently from human interaction. They don’t tire and are capable of continuing on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Low light or poor visibility has no impact on their functionality, ensuring that this monitoring can take place all year round with confidence.

Combined Monitoring

On any sea mission, there are hundreds of different factors that need to come into account for the protection of the crew. And, alongside this, technology becomes integrated into every action too. Autonomous marine systems can combine many of these commercially-available systems into one display. Therefore, your grade, GPS and ECDIS charts can all be viewed through a single screen, pulling the most vital information together. This speeds up the consumption of information, allowing mariners to make informed decisions and minimises the risk of lost time.

Constantly Improving

Many autonomous systems use something known as ‘intelligent technology’. In essence, this means that these systems learn from everything they’re exposed to during each mission. With this information, they improve the way in which they process information and constantly improve to offer the best service. This includes everything – autonomous marine systems will take note of environmental data, operator behaviour and vessel preference. Using this, it will be able to put out more relevant, efficient and predictable information, allowing the user to work at higher productivity.

Minimal Mistakes

The technology used here also helps to minimise mistakes. We’ve mentioned the risk of human error but rigidly programmed equipment can also work in a way that negatively impacts productivity. Autonomous systems, with their ability to learn and adapt, work constantly to minimise these mistakes. And, in many settings, this is vital. The marine industry relies heavily on technology to compensate for human limitations and the current situation.

What are some autonomous marine systems available today?

In today’s modern world, autonomy can improve marine operations to no end. Whether this stems from communication or reaches to man-overboard systems, there are options out there to solve most requirements. And, if a gap appears, it won’t take long for this to be filled by the consistently evolving technology that enters our industry. The range of autonomous systems out there is vast and expansive, but let’s take a look at some that we have here at Pinpoint Electronics.

Obstacle Avoidance Sonar

One of the biggest risks presented to seafarers is the possibility of colliding with something else – a large rock, an animal or even another ship. Human monitoring can prevent this from happening to a degree, but as we mentioned above, it’s not fool-proof. Obstacle Avoidance Sonars generate a real-time 3D image that allows you to monitor the seabed ahead and flag up potential hazards in advance. The FarSounder option offers an operational speed of 25 knots and can be used in shallow water – ideal for yachts, cruise liners and other vessels.

Autonomous Control Systems

Used on container ships and commercial-grade vessels, Autonomous Control Systems allow you to plan missions remotely and re-route vessels as needed to minimise hazards. The intelligent technology used helps to track accuracy, minimise excessive costs and improve efficiency while being used for security and surveying alike. The data produced during its use is real-time data, allowing the user to monitor various machines or obstacles with minimal interference. There is a wide range of autonomous control systems available, such as the Sea Machines ones that we currently stock on our website.

Camera Systems

Even with technology, visual monitoring is key. And, autonomous camera systems allow you to do this, regardless of visibility or light availability. Many of them, including the NVTS Reliant 640HD, are compact and able to slip in easily with the rest of your navigational software. They have exceptional zoom qualities – for this example, up to 30X optical zoom, and many can be used specifically for night time settings too. Thermal features allow you to monitor your surroundings at any time of day and gain accurate data to make informed decisions.

Discovering autonomous technology for your vessel can drastically improve your ability to plan out safe routes and move without risk. Here at Pinpoint Electronics, we specialise in offering advice and recommendations for anyone working at sea. If you have any questions about the autonomous marine systems we have on our website or would like to discuss your specific request, please get in contact today.