x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Roboship, the 'unsinkable' solution

A Sharjah company is producing a robotic ship called the Interceptor that it claims is "unsinkable" and could be a solution to piracy.

The Interceptor, designed for anti-piracy and naval protection operations, at the Emirates Boat Show International at the Marina yesterday.
The Interceptor, designed for anti-piracy and naval protection operations, at the Emirates Boat Show International at the Marina yesterday.

ABU DHABI // A Sharjah company is producing a robotic ship that it claims is "unsinkable" and could be a solution to piracy. The Interceptor, a jet-black unmanned surface vessel (USV), costs between US$850,000 (Dh3.1m) and $10m, depending on the client's specifications. The hi-tech craft can be fitted with features such as minesweeping sensors, pepper spray, water cannons, sonic weapons and laser "dazzlers".

"This boat doesn't need to eat, it doesn't need to sleep, it doesn't need to use the toilet," said Nour al Sayyed, the senior architect for the manufacturer, Al Marakeb. "Anyone with high-value assets from navies to coast guards to shipping companies could benefit from this technology. The USV eliminates the human element." The basic models, according to the company, feature high-resolution cameras and radar for scouting. Measuring seven metres long and 2.8 metres wide, the aquatic drone, on display yesterday at the Emirates Boat Show International, looks more like a prototype from Batman's armoury than a patrol vessel built for cargo protection. Larger models can be built to nine or 11 metres. Increasing maritime piracy underscored the need for such ships, said Basel Shuhaiber, the director of the company.

"It's for anti-piracy and for defending coastal assets," he said. "You can send this to Oman and it will come back by itself." The Interceptor has a 5.5 kilowatt generator, which can start an electric motor and allow it to loiter in an area for as long as two months without refuelling, said Robert Murphy, the managing director of 5G Marine Systems in the US. mkwong@thenational.ae