Danfoss Editron has received an order from the Norwegian shipyard Grovfjord Mekaniske Verksted (GMV) to supply hybrid propulsion systems for a fleet of unmanned exploration vessels. Four of the vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2021, with seven more to follow in the following months.
The Danish technology group Danfoss refers to the ships as “surface robots”, which are used to take underwater vehicles to where they can investigate pipeline routes or collect seismic data down to a depth of 6,000 meters. The autonomous ships are brought to market by the US company Ocean Infinity, which in turn has spun off a business unit for this purpose and named it Armada.
The models operate without a nearby mother ship and are instead “controlled via satellites from onshore facilities in the US state of Texas and the British city of Southampton,” according to an accompanying press release. By dispensing with a mother ship alone, up to 90 per cent fewer CO2 emissions could be emitted than with conventional oceanographic surveying methods.
Danfoss Editron supplies the hybrid electric drive system, which combines batteries with Volvo diesel generators. The package also includes a drive control and energy management system. “It is actually the first time that a commercial autonomous fleet in being developed, rather than just being a prototype,” says Erno Tenhunen, Director of Danfoss Editron. The manufacturer does not provide performance data.
Danfoss’ business unit specializing in hybrid and electric drive systems for off-highway and marine markets is based in Lappeenranta, Finland. As recently as June, the marine specialists also received an order from the Danish shipbuilder and operator MHO-Co to equip the UK’s first two so-called Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) with hybrid drive systems. At the same time, Danfoss announced that it had signed a contract with Infineon. And this is by far not the only cooperation in the region: At the end of 2019, Danfoss also signed a written agreement with ZF to intensify the existing cooperation between the two companies by means of a strategic partnership.
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