Autonomous Refueling of Unmanned Vehicles at Sea
NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER CARDEROCK DIV NORFOLK VA
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Refueling of Unmanned Surface Vehicles USVs at sea poses unique challenges for equipment design on both the USV and the host ship. USV refueling demands that a grappled connection be made between USV and host ship, followed by the challenge of making a fluid transfer connection remotely from the host ship. Providing the host ship the capability to refuel a fleet of USVs without the need to bring the USVs aboard the ship enhances mission efficiency. The benefits include increased USV mission time, reduced host ship exposure time, less risk to personnel involved in a recovery operation, and the possibility of refueling multiple USVs. The development of a common refueling device for use on USVs also offers the potential for receiving fuel from other sources. This increases the number of potential fuel donors to any ship, submarine, buoy, floating platform or purpose-built refueling USV. This paper identifies some of the existing concepts, design challenges, and on-going development for providing an autonomous refueling capability for USVs. This paper is based on development work at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Code 23, funded by ONRCode 33 Unmanned Sea Surface Vehicle program and a recent report prepared for NAVSEA O5D1 as part of a Cross Platform Systems Development task.
- Marine Engineering