University secures cutting edge unmanned marine vessel to support Devon businesses

The C-Worker 4 can travel at speed up to 7 knots and stay at sea for up to 48 hours (Image: L3Harris)

The University of Plymouth has secured a state of the art unmanned marine vessel capable of conducting high tech research off the South West coast.

The C-Worker 4 will be based at the University’s Marine Station and is the first major unmanned asset to join its substantial fleet of vessels and marine field equipment.

The vessel is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the University’s participation in the Marine Business Technology Centre (MBTC) project.

It will create opportunities for Devon-based small and medium sized businesses to take part in collaborative research, development and innovation activities within the Smart Sound Plymouth offshore proving area.

It will also provide University staff and students with an industry standard platform to undertake world class research and teaching alongside companies in an unmanned capacity.

The new vessel complements the University’s world-leading marine and maritime expertise, which includes research groups exploring Autonomous Marine Systems and Maritime Cyber Threats.

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, said:

“Autonomous systems are an emerging and exciting field in which the University, and Plymouth as a whole, has an excellent reputation. This new unmanned vessel is an outstanding addition to our fleet of marine and maritime equipment and will increase our capabilities in terms of research and teaching. It is also a boost for the region, and means the work we can do with local businesses can be taken to a whole new level.”

The C-Worker 4 has been developed and supplied by L3Harris. Also based on the UK’s south coast, L3Harris is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned marine systems.

Measuring just over 4metres long, and weighing ~680kg, it can travel at speed up to 7 knots and stay at sea for up to 48 hours.

It is specifically designed to complete a variety of offshore and inshore tasks, and has a waterjet propulsion system which makes it an ideal solution for both shallow and deep water surveys.

Jordan Thomas, Technical Sales Support Engineer at L3Harris, said:

“L3Harris is delighted to be selected by the University of Plymouth and Marine Business Technology Centre to deliver an unmanned vessel. The C-Worker 4 is a fantastic addition to their existing fleet, enhancing their capability to test equipment and explore new technologies. This new C-Worker 4 will establish Plymouth as one of the leading providers of accessible unmanned technology to a plethora of new users.”

The USV is anticipated to arrive at the Marine Station later in 2019, and businesses wanting to access it will receive dedicated technical support from University and MBTC specialists.

Marine Business Technology Centre

Thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the project allows a response to sector wide problems by testing facilities on fixed, local and global scales

Read more about the project

Marine Institute

Representing 3000 staff, researchers and students, the University of Plymouth's Marine Institute is the first and largest such institute in the UK. 

We provide the external portal to our extensive pool of world-leading experts and state-of-the-art facilities, enabling us to understand the relationship between the way we live, the seas that surround us and the development of sustainable policy solutions.

Discover more about the Marine Institute