ABS Issues First-Ever Approval in Principle Certificate for Commercial USV

AIP, an important first step to full classification of a new maritime vehicle, was awarded to the Saildrone Voyager and Saildrone Surveyor.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has issued Approval in Principle (AIP) certificates to Saildrone, including the first AIP for a 33-foot (10-meter) commercial uncrewed surface vehicle (USV), the Saildrone Voyager. Approvals were issued to Saildrone for both the Voyager and (20 meter) Surveyor ocean data collection platforms. The AIP is an important step to class for Saildrone’s vehicles.

“Saildrone is proud to be the first to receive an AIP certificate for a 10-meter uncrewed vehicle from an internationally respected maritime classification agency. Saildrone technology is one of the most mature solutions available, and yet international regulations around uncrewed maritime systems are only in their infancy. Therefore, it is essential that Saildrone be proactive in working with the American Bureau of Shipping to lead the industry, on and off the water,” said Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins.

AIP is a formal review process that evaluates the design concept of a new technology, product, or system against ABS rules and applicable regulations as an important first step to full classification. 

“ABS is leading the industry in supporting autonomous projects and assisting innovative companies like Saildrone. ABS understands that autonomous technologies are not stand-alone products but fully integrated with vehicle infrastructure and the result of numerous advancements in a wide variety of mechanisms including sensors, imaging, connectivity, machine learning, and more,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. 

The Voyager is the latest addition to the Saildrone fleet, specifically designed for coastal ocean and lakebed mapping, and to meet the challenges of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, law enforcement and maritime safety, drug interdiction, and border and harbor security. Sea trials of the Voyager began in the San Francisco Bay and offshore of California in late 2022, and the first operational missions for maritime security and ocean mapping began earlier this spring.

The Saildrone Surveyor is the world’s largest uncrewed ocean mapping vehicle. The Surveyor represents a paradigm shift in how we explore our oceans, carrying the same cutting-edge sonar equipment as survey ships to deliver high-resolution data to the global community, but operating at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint.

SD 1200, the first of the Surveyor-class vehicles, was built by Saildrone in Alameda, CA, and launched in January 2021. Earlier this year, SD 1200 completed a months-long survey around Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and off the coast of California, during which it mapped more than 45,000 square kilometers (17,375 square miles) of previously unexplored ocean floor. 

Saildrone is the world leader in providing ocean data using uncrewed vehicles, with nearly 25,000 days at sea and nearly 1,000,000 miles sailed. Primarily powered by wind and solar energy, Saildrone’s Voyager and Surveyor USVs are an environmentally friendly, cost-efficient solution for persistent data collection above and below the sea surface. Saildrone has already begun to scale production of its Voyager and Surveyor platforms to meet increasing demand for uncrewed ocean data collection.


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