The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has been a driving force in shaping the standards for safety and excellence in design and construction for the maritime industry for over 150 years. Saildrone is excited to announce that ABS has issued the first-ever class certificate for a commercial, uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) for the Saildrone Voyager.

Classification is a major milestone for Saildrone, allowing the Voyager to operate in the ports and waters of countries that require vessels to be classed by organizations such as ABS, and demonstrates Saildrone’s commitment to safety, standardization, and reliability in its technology and operations.

ABS presents the first Voyager class certificate to Saildrone. From L to R: Saildrone COO Mark Cuyler, Saildrone Sr. Project Manager Brendan Mullan, ABS Senior Surveyor, San Francisco Port Daniel Grossman, and Daryl Bangar, ABS Director of Business Development North America – Western.

“Saildrone has spent three years maturing the Voyager design to be the industry leader in capability, reliability, and safety in the uncrewed vehicle sector,” said Richard Jenkins, CEO and founder of Saildrone. “This classification from the American Bureau of Shipping defines the new gold standard for autonomous systems and underscores the maturity of our technology.”

The 10-meter (33-foot) Voyager is Saildrone’s mid-size platform in its rapidly expanding fleet. The Voyager carries an impressive payload for coastal ocean mapping operations, including high-resolution MBES and Innomar SBP systems, and is the only survey USV that can deliver long-duration multibeam mapping surveys meeting the highest industry standards. Its ISR sensor suite for defense applications includes a smart camera array, digital radar, and sub-surface passive acoustics.

Saildrone USVs are equipped with a suite of sensors and instruments, enabling them to collect a wide range of ocean data above and below the sea surface. They are primarily powered by wind and solar energy, making Saildrone USVs an environmentally friendly solution for long-duration ocean data missions.

What is class?

Since the 1700s, commercial vessels (and now vehicles) are almost always classed by a classification society, which sets standards for the design and manufacturing of their hull, structures, and equipment to ensure safe operations at sea.

One of the world’s leading classification organizations at the forefront of marine and offshore innovation, ABS granted classification for the Saildrone Voyager after an extensive review and evaluation process. The Voyager is the is the first autonomous asset built to ABS Class using the ABS Requirements for Autonomous and Remote Control Functions.

“Uncrewed drone vehicles have huge potential to change the way we operate at sea and are a first step towards commercial autonomous vessels. ABS is a leader in this space, working with key partners all over the world to support the development and adoption of the technologies and strategies autonomous shipping will be built on. Saildrone Voyager is exciting technology and a key milestone on the road to more autonomous operations and we are proud to be able to use our experience to support it,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Earlier last summer, ABS granted Approval in Principal (AIP) for the Voyager and the larger 20-meter (65-foot) Surveyor platform. AIP helps clients evaluate the feasibility of their designs and is a key step toward full classification.

Saildrone’s mission is to sustainably explore, map, and monitor the ocean to understand, protect, and preserve the planet. With Voyager classification now in place, Saildrone is expanding critical data delivery for scientific organizations, government agencies, and commercial partners. More than a dozen Voyager-class vehicles have already been deployed to collect data for maritime security and ocean mapping missions.

By harnessing the power of renewable energy and autonomous technology, Saildrone is revolutionizing the way ocean data is collected and utilized for science, commercial, and defense applications worldwide.

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