Pickett is currently designing and testing an operational unmanned watercraft prototype to be an affordable, lightweight, easily deployed, highly maneuverable unmanned surface vessel. This vessel is being designed, in particular, to collect sonar data in acidic water retention ponds atop gypsum stacks, as well as other typical project conditions encountered in the course of hydrographic surveys.
The design and portability of the watercraft will make it easier to launch in areas with minimal boat ramps and able to traverse tighter areas inaccessible to manned watercraft.
Crew safety will be realized, particularly in the case of acidic gypsum ponds, where crews will not be subjected to more dangerous waterways.
Navigation of the unmanned watercraft will be controlled in one of three methods:
1. Manual mode – Controller operate the vessel’s Video System, Computer Control System (CCS), and long range remote control functions. First person view (FPV) will allow the controller to see and control the equipment as if we were on the watercraft.
2. Survey mode – An autopilot drives the vessel in pre-determined lines making the survey more efficient but have the ability to easily switch to manual mode if required.
3. Position hold mode – Will keep the watercraft ‘idling’ in one small area.