April 18, 2019  

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USM Adds Advanced Technology for Unmanned Marine Systems Certification Course

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The C-Worker 5 Unmanned Surface Vehicle

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has awarded a contract to ASV Global for the provision of a C-Worker 5 Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). The 18’ USV will be used for testing, training, and establishing procedures and protocols for use of the system by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on future hydrographic programs. 

The vehicle was purchased under a grant from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey through the Hydrographic Science Research Center’s Mapping Center. USM is tasked with developing the Concept of Operations, which acts as the operations manual for how to utilize the C-Worker 5 and its mapping technologies for NOAA’s navigational charting program.

“The C-Worker 5 from ASV Global is a great addition to support USM’s growing technological capabilities in our Unmanned Marine Systems certification course,” said Dr. Monty Graham, School of Ocean Science and Technology director. 

The University’s UMS certification program is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Students participate in a three-month training cycle, during which they study nautical science, 3-D positioning, ocean policy, autonomous systems and much more. The UMS program is made up of three tiers including “novice,” “journeyman” and “expert” levels. 

“Having our students work with advanced technology like the C-Worker 5 USV gives them hands-on experience that is almost impossible to find anywhere else,” Graham said. 

Designed as a force multiplier to enable increased survey coverage, the C-Worker 5 is an 18’ long, purpose-built diesel powered USV with an endurance of seven days while traveling seven knots. It has a keel flange for subsurface payload equipment and an air-conditioned 19” rack in the hull for topside payload electronics. The C-Worker 5 can also accommodate an oceanographic winch and A-frame that can be used to deploy a variety of sensors. 

“The Unmanned Maritime Systems certification strives to expose the students to as many different types of autonomous vehicles as possible so we are thrilled to have the C-Worker 5 for the class,” said Dr. Vernon Asper, UMS certificate instructor. “We plan to take it out to several different locations and really put it to work.”

USM’s sponsors including NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and the US Naval Oceanographic Office will also benefit substantially from this state-of-the-art USV acquisition. 

“Over the next year, we will evaluate the usefulness of using this vessel for shallow water surveys and we will develop operational procedure documents that will be used by NOAA researchers and others as they apply this technology,” Asper said.  “One exciting challenge will be to evaluate the Launch and Recovery System that will be installed on the RV Point Sur to determine how well it performs under a variety of sea states”

Dr. Graham said a lot of people came together to make this partnership happen.

“We could not have done any of this without the support of Governor Phil Bryant, Institute of Higher Learning, and of course our congressional delegation including Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker as well as Congressman Steven Palazzo.”