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Unmanned Surface Vessels


Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) are a rapidly expanding area of interest for navies and commercial enterprises around the world. Cambridge Pixel is at the forefront of USV development, partnering with some of the key USV developers and manufacturers across the US, Europe and Asia.

USVs find a multitude of uses, from mine hunting/sweeping to scientific research and surveying. It may be desirable to use a USV on projects that require long periods at sea or when conditions are simply too dangerous for manned craft. USVs can be much cheaper to deploy than manned vessels, while at the same time offering operational benefits, such as extended operating periods.

A feature of many USVs is their ability to navigate round obstacles autonomously. While the position of stationary objects such as land and buoys may be known ahead of deployment, the dynamic position of other ships and vehicles must be sensed as the USV moves. Radar is fundamental to detecting potential obstacles at significant ranges. Extracting and tracking targets from radar video is a core competence of Cambridge Pixel.

Many USV applications require the ability to send track data and/or radar video data back from the USV to a "mothership", via a wireless link. The link between the USV and mothership may typically be a low bandwidth microwave or satellite connection. Sending radar video data can therefore be a significant challenge. However, Cambridge Pixel's SPx software provides the ability to pre-process and compress radar video data prior to transmission, allowing the radar video to be squeezed into the available bandwidth.

A very general view of a USV system is shown below. The USV may be fitted with a number of sensors, generally including radar. Local processing of those sensors may include target tracking, compression, recording and network transmission. On the mothership, receipt and display of the data sent from the USV is a fundamental requirement. It may also be necessary to control the local processing on the USV, and possibly also the sensors themselves, remotely. Cambridge Pixel has field-proven software components that can provide each of these capabilities.

Receipt and display of radar video and track data in clients on the mothership is a common requirement across deployed USV systems. To address this need, Cambridge Pixel has developed the USVx framework display application. USVx is supplied as a ready-to-run client application, providing a clear, maritime-style presentation of radar video, tracks and AIS data. USVx requires no custom development; however, for customers who do wish to enhance its capabilities or alter its appearance, the top-level application source code can be supplied.

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