Zhuhai's growing marine economy got a boost with the Feb 10 announcement that work would soon begin on the world's largest offshore test fields for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) in waters around the Wanshan Archipelago.
Overall plans of the 21.6-sq-km (8.3 sq-mile) Phase I debugging test field and 750-sq-km (289 sq-mile) Phase II performance test field were unveiled in unison at Zhuhai Holiday Resort Hotel in Jida.
The project is the culmination of a high-profile USV partnership between the city government, China Classification Society (CCS), Wuhan University of Technology, and Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligence Technology (Yunzhou-Tech). Cooperative intentions were stipulated in a memorandum signed during Marintec China 2017 in Shanghai last December.
Yunzhou Tech autonomous cargo ship [Photo courtesy Zhuhai Daily]
Internet devices, communications facilities, and illuminations will be installed on designated islands and reefs within range. The system will also be equipped with navigational radars, automatic berthing piers, and other ancillaries to allow the testing of USVs in multi-scene and multi-dimensional scenarios.
All this will allow performance data for autonomous obstacle avoidance, collaborative formations, remote piloting, autonomous operations, standing patrols, and communications to be collected in real time.
Developers foresee the emergence of a hi-tech USV base that is capable of R&D, formulated standards, technical testing and certification, and application demonstration in the next three to five years. It will be the first of its kind in Asia.
International exchange channels and exhibitions of emerging technologies, products, business types, and operation models will also be held at the center. This convergence of high-end talents, projects, and intensive capital is expected to enlarge the marine industry. Upon gaining national accreditation, the center will add to testing and inspection regulations that adhere to industry standards.
Yunzhou Tech, established in 2010, is a leading domestic USV developer and supplier located in the Zhuhai Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone of Tangjiawan. The company's up-to-date 7.5-m (25-ft) Yunzhou-Tech patrol boat was the first USV in China to earn the CCS Approval Certificate last year.
Zhuhai Vice Mayor Lu Xiaofeng attended the launch ceremony.