An electric drive system and generators from Fischer Panda UK will power the world’s first fully automated vessel, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), which will make its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean this June.
Developed by marine research organization ProMare with IBM as a scientific partner, the 50ft trimaran weighs five-tons and will cover 3,000 miles from Plymouth in the UK to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Fischer propulsion equipment is to play a key role in the vessel’s success, as it tests various AI systems and data-gathering technology during the journey.
Designed by Whiskerstay and MSubs to provide a safe, flexible and cost-effective way of gathering data about the ocean, the Mayflower features an AI Captain, which relies on precision inertial navigation, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning, radar sensors, satellite communications, meteorologic instrumentation, cameras and radar to aid in data gathering on whale populations, sea levels, microplastics and other associated research.
The hybrid-electric propulsion system from Fischer Panda UK is primarily charged using wind and solar energy, and it is estimated that the MAS vessel will complete its crossing in 20 days at a speed of around 10 kts. The propulsion system is stated to provide the vessel with an unlimited range in bright sunshine and windy conditions, but diesel generators from Fisher provide a backup power source if necessary.
“We wanted to buy an end-to-end hybrid drive that was fully integrated and tested by the manufacturer and we knew would work,” commented Brett Phaneuf, ProMare co-founder. “We’ve used Fischer Panda in the past for our military work and found them to be very reliable.”
“This project will have huge implications for the maritime industry, and we will be watching the Atlantic crossing avidly along with the rest of the world,” added Barry Fower, managing director at Fischer Panda UK. “We are seeing unmanned vessels play an increasing role in many different sectors, with interest in our systems for these applications continuing to grow. We are proud to see the reliable Fischer Panda equipment on board Mayflower, alongside some of the most innovative systems and advanced AI technology.”
The Fischer Panda UK equipment installed on the Mayflower is as follows:
- Two 48V DC generators – a 22kW Fischer Panda AGT 22000 and a 4kW Fischer Panda AGT 4000. Both generators are in ‘PVM’ format, with a dry exhaust. This removes the need for a raw water intake, a potential source of leakage or corrosion.
- Two 48V Fischer Panda 20kW 600rpm Easybox shaft motors.
- A Mastervolt Mass Combi 48/3500-50 inverter and charger, supported by a battery management system for control and monitoring.
- A 38.4kWh battery bank consisting of eight of the new Mastervolt MLi Ultra 5500 lithium-ion batteries, providing 800Ah at 48V.