Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Yamaha launch multipurpose robot

Published on August 22, 2016 by   ·   No Comments


Not a month goes by nowadays without the announcement of some robot vehicle or another, and this is no exception.  As the autonomous boat bandwagon gets underway, Yamaha is jumping on board with a self-piloting compact electric craft of its own, the BREEZE10.

Now before we get anyone’s hopes up, this is a bit more utilitarian than the glossy, marble-and-glass affairs that we normally write about in these pages.   The BREEZE10 is a scant three metres long and is designed for the perhaps unglamorous task of surveying lake beds.  But the Company also has plans to evolve the autonomous platform to meet the specifications of surveillance and defence customers in the future.

Yamaha is initially pitching its robotic watercraft to the wide variety of dam operators that evidently exist in Japan.  Local governments and power companies are among those being targeted as customers, and the Company is betting that the difficulties faced by surveyors working in harsh wintry conditions, as well as its labour- and cost-saving aspects, will spur adoption of the vessel

The BREEZE10 is designed with a dedicated mount point in the bottom of the hull that allows sonar equipment to be quickly swapped in or out depending on the requirements of the job at hand.  It also features the ability to work in shallow locations thanks to the specially designed low-profile hull with integrated Yamaha marine electric motor.

In addition to a totally autonomous mode where it pilots itself, the vessel also features the ability to be controlled remotely or from a joystick on board, which makes it suitable for any number of uses.  It also has the brain to retrace routes it has previously travelled, which is useful when resurveying a location, say before and after dredging a dam reservoir.  And its pint-sizedness comes in handy when it comes to transportation; the Company claims the whole boat can fit in a “suitably-sized” minivan

Equipped with a 20Ah battery, the BREEZE10 can run its Yamaha M25 motor for up to six hours, which gives it impressive longevity.  Top speed is a rather sedate four knots, but surveying is not a high-speed affair anyway, and when your boat-bot is off doing your job for you on its own – who really cares

The defence applications seem to be pretty obvious, too.  The world’s militaries are increasingly taking an interest in autonomous vehicles, and while drone unmanned aerial vehicles have become commonplace, we’re beginning to hear more and more about unmanned water-vehicle systems.

A compact vessel with several hours’ running time and a hot-swap sonar would seem to be a good choice for a remotely-operated minesweeper, for example.  Meanwhile, an inconspicuous, quiet marine drone might be of interest to various intelligence agencies around the world, although something would have to be done about the top speed if it were to pass muster with the James Bond types.

As the robot revolution continues apace, we’re once again witnessing a new type of automated vessel take to the waves.  While it’s definitely a niche product, the BREEZE10 is sure to make waves in its market, and this is unlikely to be the last time Yamaha announces an autonomous marine vehicle.

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