Inmarsat has installed a new connectivity solution using virtualised networks that aims to establish higher standards for over-the-horizon uncrewed vessel control.
The installation connects the SEA-KIT International USV Maxlimer to available Inmarsat networks at all times by switching between Fleet LTE, Global Xpress (GX) and FleetBroadband services when out of range. Inmarsat believes this combination will set new standards in continuous connectivity to serve a broader range of USV situations and support the next phase of SEA-KIT technology trials, which started in September off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom.
The project requires the installation of a GX antenna to join an existing FleetBroadband antenna that together will deliver full Fleet Xpress capabilities, plus Fleet LTE hardware for seamless switching between networks onboard the 12-metre long autonomous vessel.
SEA-KIT, also based in the United Kingdom, has been running remotely controlled demonstrations for maritime defence, security and commercial stakeholders from its base in Tollesbury, Essex.
Ashley Skett, Operations Director, SEA-KIT International, said: “SEA-KIT is delighted to trial seamless switching and to work with Inmarsat to increase data capabilities in developing over-the-horizon control capability, once again pushing the boundaries of our USV design. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions being made to these trials by our partners NORBIT Subsea, iXblue and Genasys Inc.”
Scott Middleton, Sales Director EMEA, AsiaPac Offshore Energy, Inmarsat Maritime, added: “The new trial will be a significant stepping stone for separated networks solutions that ensure reliability, cyber resilience and high data traffic, while selecting bandwidth for the most cost-effective USV operations at all times. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate a new phase in technological development to support the over-the-horizon operation, endurance and ocean-going ability of USVs.”
The integration of multiple technologies into one cohesive solution is based on the same concept as Inmarsat’s recently-announced communications network of the future Orchestra. This will bring together Inmarsat’s existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into an integrated, high-performance solution.