Emirati company, Marakeb Technologies, proves convenience and ease of integration of its autonomous conversion kit while embarking on an Unmanned Surface Vessel project for global offshore solutions provider, Unique Group.
The project involves equipping a 16ft work vessel to operate autonomously using Marakeb’s patented device, the MAP Pro.
Not to be confused with remote control, which involves live steering of a boat from a distance, autonomous operations involve programming routes and instructions for the vessel to navigate a certain scenario on its own, including a path layout, programmable speeds, obstacle warnings, failsafe protocols and live data relay from all sensors on the vessel back to a ground control station.
Chief of Engineering for Marakeb, Bud Peppe, explained: “Unique Group’s Uni-Cat, equipped with the MAP Pro Autonomy System, allows for autonomous hydrographic survey operations utilizing various payloads suitable for search and recovery, oceanography and monitoring as well as inspection surveys.
Providing autonomous services and technologies to companies such as Unique Group are exactly why we developed the MAP Pro. Whether the client has a vessel currently in their inventory or wants to design their own purpose-built USV, the MAP Pro System’s ease of installation, integration and configuration make it ideal for implementing into a customer’s platform at any time during the project timeline.”
The vessel and system are a kit-of-parts that are easy to disassemble and transport for reassembly and operation in different locations around the GCC. Furthermore, the long-lasting battery capacity along with its autonomous capabilities allow for uninterrupted work shifts resulting in efficient and low cost operations.
Venkatesh Rao, Regional Vice President for the Middle East at Unique Group commented: “Our extensive global experience over the past 25 years as an integrated offshore & subsea solutions provider has uniquely positioned us to deliver products and solutions in line with customer expectations. The ease of mobility is a major highlight of our USV – “Uni-Cat” - the 16 foot Cataraft platform is designed to provide convenient operability in areas which are difficult to access otherwise. The ability to customize the payload by mounting different sonars & ancillary sensors as required is definitely of key interest for our customers.”
“This is certainly a turning point for us as we’re looking to venture further into the development of customized autonomous vehicles over the years ahead,” he added.
Marakeb Technologies LLC was established in 2007 as a GRP boat manufacturer.
The first 5 years of the company’s operation saw an increase to over three times its size in terms of facilities, team and production capacity of 25-35ft boats, producing approximately 60 units per year, and thus able to support a growing interest in Marine Autonomous and Navigation Systems.
Following 2 years of diligent research and development, with the employ of marine engineers and robotics specialists, Marakeb showcased a fully-operational Unmanned Surface Vessel unit at the UMEX 2014, and soon after applied for patent on its MAP Pro USV Conversion kit- a compact device and system that converts any vessel to a USV once integrated, and allows for autonomous operation from a remote ground control station.
Marakeb has since produced a fleet of USVs and specialized boats for defense, surveillance and firefighting applications with the UAE, GCC and well as Australia, where they eventually set up office to handle a growing number of South-East Asian projects.
Today, Marakeb has shifted its primary focus from GRP Boats to manufacturing a line of marine electronics that range from commercial autopilots to advanced autonomous devices for defense applications, and has broadened its capabilities beyond the marine world to cater to land and air vehicles.