Al Marakeb Boat Manufacturing Company, a leading UAE based maritime company building high-performance Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) and marine autonomous vessels, has revealed the launch of its latest offering, the B7X. The new model, which can be utilized for both manned and unmanned operations, is also being dubbed as the world’s first ever mass produced dual-use USV being made available for commercial purposes.
The B7X is world’s first mass produced USV made available for commercial purposes
The B7X, along with Al Marakeb's other models, are all manufactured, assembled, integrated and tested in the UAE. Designed and developed with a high-end autonomous control system to assist the country's naval forces, the B7X can be used for a wide variety of potential defense and civil applications, including vessel monitoring, law enforcement, automated commercial transportation, search & rescue and surveillance, to name a few.
“As an Emirati company, Al Marakeb is proud to be a key player in the efforts to consolidate the UAE's position as a global maritime hub. The launch of the B7X further demonstrates the country's commitment to become a leading proponent of unmanned technologies,” said Nour Al Sayyed, Director of Operations, Al Marakeb. “This pioneering USV unit reflects our strong attention to technology, craftmanship and service, while also looking to meet what our customer's want, especially through safety, quality, cost and delivery. Aside from the B7X, Al Marakeb actively seeks to becoming a lead player in the UAE’s pursuit in the successful integration of autonomous technologies across the emirates--whether on land, air or at sea--giving importance to the unified effort to achieve the goals and objectives set forth in UAE Vision 2021.”
Every year the race for technological advancement drives Dubai to invite futurists and technology pioneers to showcase their latest creations and developments at GITEX Tech Week. Highlighting this year’s program was a joint collaboration between professional communications specialists Nedaa, a Dubai Government Entity, and local maritime autonomy experts MAP Marine Technologies [MAP-Tech].
The unit displayed at GITEX 2017, MAP-Tech’s portable command and control station known as C2Pro, operated a boat that was located remotely using autonomous communication over Nedaa’s private and secure 4G network.
Adnane El Soussi, Director of Robotics at MAP-Tech explains, “Demonstrations held at GITEX showcased the ability to utilize MAP-Tech’s unmanned capabilities over Nedaa’s own communications infrastructure, contributing to Dubai’s strive towards becoming a smart city.” He further comments on the success of tests conducted so far, saying “unmanned operations involve the transfer of large amounts of information, controlling the routes and speed for the boat as well as sending and receiving data through different sensors – such as cameras, sonars, radars, etc. our tests have shown uninterrupted operation using the 4G network and we are eager to explore the possibilities this will bring.”
An unprecedented demonstration involving remote control of a USV located in Dubai from an autonomous control station situated in ADNEC Abu Dhabi takes place at the Seatrade Offshore Marine and Work Boat Middle East 2017 show.
In a previous statement earlier this month, UAE manufacturer of specialty marine electronics- MAP Marine Technologies [MAP-Tech] - announced the launch of its second generation MAP Pro- Autonomous Conversion Kit, a device and system that can convert any regular boat to an Unmanned Surface Vessel [USV]. They also promised a never-before live demonstration of this system at Seatrade Offshore Marine & Work Boats Middle East, taking place in Abu Dhabi 25-27 September, and they have delivered on this promise.
USV demonstrations to date have involved a showcasing of autonomous operation, a display of routes and maneuvers, where the vessel and operator are within the same proximity. Adnane El Soussi, Head of Robotics at MAP-Tech, comments “We will showcase autonomous way-point navigation and remote manual control, as well as relay of sensory data - such as radar and camera feedback and control. What separates us from the usual demos is that we will be operating a vessel that is not in our line of sight, being over 100km away.” He further comments “This is a more true depiction of USV operations, and a testament to our MAP Pro system’s capabilities.”
The vessel used in the demonstration is a regular recreational 31ft GRP craft, which is outfitted with a MAP Pro device allowing for autonomous control of the vessel. The boat, situated at Dubai Creek, will respond to the operator’s control at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi through MAP-Tech’s latest ground control station- the C2Pro. Mr. El Soussi explains “It is a portable command & control unit. While it was primarily designed for USVs, it can be used to control any unmanned vessel whether by land, air, or sea.”
The live demonstration takes place on Exalto Emirates stand [N-20] at the event: One of the largest providers of quality marine equipment -carrying over 14,500 different products in their catalogue- and is the master distributor of MAP-Tech products in the region.
Al Marakeb are to deliver transportation boats with the MAP Marine Auto-pilot system as a preferred navigation product.
When China Harbour Engineering take delivery of the first 2 of an order of 4 Dino Transport Vessels, MAP Auto-pilot will be installed for its captain and crew. The vessels are being used to transport up to 26 passengers/workers at a time out to the harbour that is a part of the massive development of a water and energy project on the Dubai & Abu Dhabi border.
As a unique auto-pilot product, the captain will not only be able to plan his routes on his hand held or lap top device, but he will also be able to remotely steer the vessel through the series of waypoints to its destination and home again. With a retail price of just USD$2,190.00 and with its unique remote steering capability, more operators of work boats are seeing the economical and capability advantages of the MAP auto-pilot.