In the past, I’ve talked about how technology has been successfully deployed on big ships like ocean cruisers and defense vessels but what about fast leisure craft, like powerboats, speedboats and ribs?
I don’t know about you, but I felt that these sailors had literally missed the boat (pardon the pun) when it came to the latest and greatest technology, particularly around safety. And yet, according to the European Boating Industry, 36 million Europeans are boaters. Over six million boats are kept in European waters while 4,500 marinas provide 1.75 million berths both inland and in coastal areas.
Experts together for safety
I spoke to other colleagues in the industry. Together, we decided we were going to address this gap. Our mission was to design a fast boat, equipped to operate in extreme environments with rugged technology to track performance and importantly, deliver new levels of safety.
Together, we assembled a group of like-minded marine visionaries, namely: Safehaven Marine, boat designers and builders; Navarino, one of the world’s largest distributors of integrated satellite communications solutions, Iridium, a leading mobile satellite communications company, 8West, a software development and consultancy company with a focus on innovative marine safety solutions, and of course, yours truly from Dell Technologies OEM | Embedded & Edge Solutions Maritime.
First of its kind
This wasn’t a talk forum or an excuse for PowerPoint slides. We didn’t sit around, drink coffee and shoot the breeze! No, over the last three years, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and worked together to design and build a prototype boat in Cork, Ireland, like no other. And where better than Cork – home to one of the largest natural harbours in the world and the oldest yacht club?
This experience has been what I would call a labour of love, a collaboration where we collectively worked as a single crew, using a combination of tried and trusted craftsmanship honed over the centuries allied with the latest technology.
Built by Safehaven Marine, the boat design in itself is revolutionary, crossing a wave-piercing monohull with a catamaran hull with four Caterpillar C8.7 650hp engines providing top speeds in excess of 50 knots.
Picture a 75 foot boat, equipped with customised and rugged military-grade compute and network infrastructure, including Dell Latitude 7424 laptops, PowerEdge XR2 rugged servers, Dell 3002 IoT Edge Gateways and switches. All our rugged technology packs a punch and is ideal for tough conditions and tight spaces.
Ship to shore
From a communications perspective, the boat is fitted with Dual Cobham Sailor 4300 Iridium Certus L-band satcom antennas, a Navarino Infinity Cube dual node, high availability , high performance/active cluster plus IoT G-force sensors, which connect real-time to Azure via a dual-site connection.
Information is power
Using Dell Edge Gateways, these sensors collect and analyse data, gathering a huge range of inputs, for example, the weather, temperature and humidity, engine data, speed, geographical position plus sea motions like heave, pitch, roll and acceleration. A real-time web portal allows the crew to record and analyse vessel performance in real-time before live-streaming the data onshore.
Search and rescue functionality
That’s not all! In addition to performance data, Safe Trx Ranger software from 8West can automatically track the boat’s location and alert emergency contacts ashore, should the craft fail to return on time.
In this scenario, the user’s location is automatically sent to the SafeTrx Monitoring Console, meaning that the Coast Guard can instantly view the position of the emergency call, accessing vessel name, user name, gender, phone number, vessel name, craft type, radio equipment, last reported position, people on board, activity and trip ID. The application also displays the location, speed and heading on the emergency call screen.
Cost-effective, easy and reliable
Importantly, the system provides boat users who don’t have or use Automatic Identification System (AIS) on board with a cost-effective, automated and reliable way to keep the Search and Rescue authorities informed of their voyage plans and location. In fact, SafeTrx is the first data source that focuses on leisure craft users without AIS. In this way, it significantly contributes to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) IMdatE maritime situational awareness picture.
What a beauty!
I believe that as a team, we have achieved our goal. Our prototype boat is capable of delivering fast performance in extreme environments and comes complete with rugged, reliable IT infrastructure, promising new levels of safety for leisure craft.
Our team is proud to participate in this partnership and contribute to better safety standards at sea. I believe that this is a great example of how IT technology can be a force for good, driving human progress and making a real difference to society.
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