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Wednesday, September 30, 2020 

Danfoss Editron is providing hybrid drivetrain systems, comprising full hybrid propulsion, power plant system and control and energy management system for what is said to be the worlds first fleet of commercial autonomous robot exploration vessels.

The new autonomous fleet of unmanned surface robots will be launched by subsea technology and data company Ocean Infinity under a spin-company named Armada. The boats do not require a host vessel, thus saving up to 90% less CO2 emission compared to conventional oceanographic survey methods. The boats, to be built at the Grovfjord Mek Verksted (GMV) shipyard, will offer significant fuel savings, optimised operational performance and increased safety levels compared to conventional survey vessels. The diesel engines for the hybrid systems will be provided by Volvo Penta.

The autonomous vessels will be capable of launching underwater ROVs to a maximum depth of 6000m to carry out surveys on pipeline routes or acquire seismic data. They will be controlled via satellite links from onshore facilities in Texas, US, and Southampton, UK.

Danfoss Editron is delivering the full hybrid-electric propulsion and power plant system for the fleet, consisting of a combination of batteries and diesel-generators. The company will also provide the energy management system and propulsion control for each vessel. Volvo Penta D8 MH variable speed engines will power the marine generator sets onboard. The new D8 engine is well suited to the autonomous vessels due to its compact size and high power-to-weight ratio. Additionally, the engine’s low fuel consumption assists in CO2 emissions reduction.

Danfoss Editron Marine Director Erno Tenhunen said: “It is actually the first time that a commercial autonomous fleet in being developed, rather than just being a prototype. We are very proud to have been chosen by GMV as their technology partners for this ground-breaking project. We’re also excited to continue our cooperation with GMV on the Armada project. It is one of the largest aluminium hull vessel builders in the world and has a strong history of delivering high-quality boats.

Volvo Penta head of marine, Johan Inden, said: “Volvo Penta is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project in cooperation with Danfoss Editron. Together, we will deliver an optimised power solution to the autonomous Armada fleet, designed for ultimate performance while reducing the environmental footprint.” 

The first four vessels in the Armada fleet are due to be delivered to Ocean Infinity in 2021, with the remaining seven robots completed in the following months.

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