We’re growing used to the idea of cars parking themselves thanks to an intelligent control unit brain and a host of sensors giving pinpoint information on position and surroundings. With much talk of autonomous shipping, the question remains as to whether large vessels will ever reach the same level of sophistication. One company, however, is already making strides toward this possible future, and a newly launched superyacht is believed to be among the recipients of the latest generation of its system.
The company is Guidance Marine, and their specialism is in positioning equipment design primarily to facilitate dynamic positioning systems in the offshore oil and gas markets. One intrepid build team, however, has chosen to bring Guidance Marine’s CyScan technology on board a recently launched 150m+ superyacht – believed to be the new Dilbar – in order to aid berthing in the tight confines of Antibes, the yacht’s new home.
“In this instance,” says Guidance Marine’s James Grimshaw, “it was Rolls-Royce [who introduced the technology to the yacht]. They are one of several dynamic positioning partners of Guidance Marine. Typically we deal with oil and gas vessels but due to the scale and size of this particular yacht and their requirements for berthing, they required something that would give them a range and bearing measurement. The suggestion of Rolls-Royce was to install a CyScan system on the yacht.”
The CyScan is a laser-based system that works on a principle similar to surveying equipment. The scanner unit on the vessel – typically installed on the mast or monkey island – emits a laser that is picked up and reflected by fixed prism targets. An onboard computer then works out the time of flight to calculate where the vessel is in relation to the targets, as well as producing range and bearing information. The accuracy of the system is down to centimetres, so when combined with programmed offsets for the vessel’s dimensions in relation to the mounting point of the scanner, the captain can get a precise picture of where the yacht is in relation to the harbour and the berth.
In order for the CyScan system to work, several fixed targets have now been installed around Port Vaubin, Antibes. “It’s really quite an exciting project for us, because it’s one of the first projects that takes us out of the oil and gas market,” says Dr Sasha Heriot, business development manager at Guidance Marine. “Antibes harbour is quite small when the yacht is in there, and it’s quite a challenge to manoeuvre. It’s absolutely fantastic that we can use this technology for a completely new application.”
The installation of the four strategically placed targets in Antibes also means that any yacht that installs the £45,000 scanner can use the system, and it raises the tantalising possibility of installing further targets at other key marinas and harbours around the world. “The range of the CyScan, when used with one of our high-quality prism targets, is 2.5km,” Heriot explains, “so if you can ensure there is line of sight between a prism and the vessel it can navigate from 2.5km out right into the harbour. We’d love to install our targets around all the yacht harbours.”
It is unclear at the time of publishing whether Dilbar as of yet has the system installed on board, but Guidance Marine confirms that “a new large yacht” has committed to it. “Obviously they’ve had to liaise with Antibes port to install the various prisms,” concludes Grimshaw, “so they’ve made that initial commitment on the understanding that a CyScan system is going to be installed on the yacht.”
It wouldn’t be the first bit of new kit that the new Lürssen giant is sporting – it is rumoured that the 156m Dilbar is also the first yacht to carry Sonardyne’s new NOAS 3D imaging sonar.