When it comes to maintaining a dam, there's more to worry about than stopping the walls from falling down. Silt buildup can damage a dam's ability to effectively collect water, which means they need to be scanned and dredged periodically. Yamaha has developed an autonomous boat designed to make the mundane task of dam and lake bed sediment surveying a little bit easier.
Yamaha's Breeze10 uses a satellite positioning system in combination with azimuth angle data for autonomous navigation, with routes able to be saved for use again when resurveying. Measuring 3.2 m (10.4 ft) long with a beam of 1.2 m (3.9 ft), the craft is compact enough to fit in a large minivan and can carry sonar, such as R2Sonic's "Sonic2024" narrow multibeam sonar system, for scanning lake and dam beds.
Sonar sensors can be fitted quickly and easily thanks to a dedicated mounting point in the center of the underside of the craft, and an 0.5 kW electric motor allows for operation in shallow water. Range anxiety shouldn't be a problem, with the 20 AH lithium-ion battery and 1.6-kW on-board generator promising six hours of continuous running.
Although it can operate in fully autonomous mode, Yamaha has also included two other drive modes, allowing remote control or giving full control to an on-board driver. That driver isn't going to be winning any drag races with the Breeze10's four knot (7.2 km/h) top speed, but that's not really the point.
Yamaha is hoping its design will be able to transfer into surveillance and defense roles in the future, but for now it's expected to find a home with commercial surveyors when it launches in August.
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