iXblue is one of several firms leading the charge into the domain of unmanned and autonomous survey vessels, suitable for use in offshore applications.

During my visit to the Ocean Business Exhibition in Southampton, in April 2019, there were unmanned survey vessels of all shapes and sizes everywhere you looked.  There is no doubt that the need to reduce survey costs is fuelling this new wave of product and technology to the market.  We are in exciting times.

But seeing an unmanned vessel on a stand doesn’t compare to witnessing it in action on the water.  This is essential in order to gauge capabilities and performance.  However, providing a truly meaningful first-hand experience is challenging.

What can be demonstrated within the confines of a sheltered dock is child’s play compared to the reality and excitement of real-world performance in open waters.

Although the iXblue unmanned vessel Drix has been located in the South Pacific region for the past few months, demonstrating its’ full capabilities to clients and other interested parties has eluded us, until recently.

In early May 2019 the iXblue Sea Operations Division completed a survey of the Fiordland National Park and stopped over in the City of Sails on their way home. Their Auckland visit provided an ideal opportunity for us to introduce interested parties from Australia and New Zealand to the iXblue DriX USV.

So on Thursday 9th May, we were delighted to host personnel from the NZ and Australian Maritime agencies, NIWA, the Royal New Zealand Navy and Industry onboard the MV SILENT WINGS and conduct two demonstrations in the beautiful Auckland Harbour.

We put iXblue DriX through its paces with a small multi-beam survey in the semi-autonomous mode.  This was one of the rare times when you actually wish for marginal conditions so you can demonstrate seakeeping capabilities.  But that was not to be, as the wind and sea conditions were extremely favourable.

Despite the excellent conditions, our guests got a taste of unmanned survey vessel technology and capabilities, as well as an appreciation of the future that this technology will have on a variety of marine sector industries.

David Donohue

As Managing Director David's role is to ensure clients' surveys are undertaken with precision and to meet budgets, schedules and relevant survey standards. His particular driving passion is innovation and process improvement.

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