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China launches world's first unmanned intelligent research ship

China on Wednesday successfully launched its first intelligent research mothership with a self-navigating and piloting system in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province.

The vessel – said to be the first of its type in the world – is designed for marine scientific research that can be controlled remotely and navigate autonomously in open water, China Media Group (CMG) reported.

The futuristic-looking ship is the first mothership that can achieve coordination among different unmanned systems in the air, on the ocean surface, or under it.

The ship that can travel between 13 to 18 knots is 88.5 meters long, 14 meters wide and 6.1 meters deep, with a draft of 3.7 meters and a designed displacement of 2,000 tonnes.

The ship's wide deck is designed to carry different unmanned equipment such as drones, unmanned ships or submersibles that can be deployed towards a designated area and realize dimensional and dynamic observation of certain objects.

These equipment, once distributed in batch and form a network in automation, are part of the vessel's Intelligent Mobile Ocean Stereo Observing System (IMOSOS) developed by the Southern Laboratory of Ocean Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory.

The IMOSOS can serve as a tool for marine disaster prevention and mitigation, submarine fine mapping, marine environment monitoring, and offshore wind farm maintenance.

Powered by AI and unmanned systems, the ship can spend long periods of time at sea, collecting data in different conditions, thus enhancing the efficiency of marine scientific research and improving research capability and scope.

The ship has been in the works since July 2021 and is expected to be delivered by the end of 2022 after final testing and adjustment of its systems.


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