California’s Marine Advanced Robotics has made significant progress on its remarkable modular spacecraft (WAM-V) since we first saw these wild spider boats 16 years ago on a list of urban legends. They weren’t legends and photoshops – indeed, the giant 100-foot Proteus laid the foundations for the smaller, smarter machines the company makes today.

In short, the WAM-V is an ultralight catamaran with hulls mounted on smart suspension legs that use springs, shock absorbers and ball joints to move along with the waves, helping to stabilize them when tilting and rolling and making these boats suitable for marine conditions in which others of the same size simply cannot work. With props always in the water, they are extremely maneuverable and able to rotate 360 ​​degrees almost in their own footprint.

This is the wave adaptive part; they are also modular, with quick connect interfaces that allow operators to quickly change propulsion systems, payloads and sensor / instrument packs for different missions. And transportable, they are designed for quick assembly and disassembly and break down so small that four 16-foot WAM-Vs can fit in a standard shipping container. You will need to drop a conventional 18-foot RIB to insert even one of them.

Proteus WAM-V: a grand public debut

Michael Ainskow / HP

If large enough, the WAM-V can control a manned cabin. Otherwise, they can operate autonomously or via remote control. Marine Advanced Robotics has built and delivered a wide range of sizes now, from the impressive 100 feet (30 m) Proteus to the miniature stand-alone 8-feet that can run in ridiculous 6 inches (15 cm) of water, thanks to the super shallow thrust of this design .

Even without disassembling them, they can lower their upper level of the platform with water, which facilitates the change of payload in motion or allows people to jump on board. They can also fold their legs inwards to become much more compact on one side of the other if needed. And they, of course, can work with both internal combustion engines and electric motors, depending on the nature of the task.

All of the above makes these things great platforms for all kinds of applications in research, mapping, research, asset inspection, defense, and robotics research. Since 2014, WAM-V has been the platform used in the Maritime RobotX challenge, an international robotics competition for students focused on cooperative autonomy, in which teams compete to program their boats for a number of different tasks, such as navigating in response to visual cues. fake search and rescue operations, drone maintenance, self-docking in a certain bay and the like.

In a semi-folded configuration, WAM-V can lower its platform to surface level
In a semi-folded configuration, WAM-V can lower its platform to surface level

Marine advanced robotics

Marine Advanced Robotics sells them off the shelf in 8-, 16- and 22-ft sizes (2.4, 4.8, 6.7-m) and builds larger ones to order. But the company also hires them as a service, alone or in fleets – their quick setup, super flexible functionality and wide compatibility make them very easy to engage in naval operations that can be accelerated with additional machines in the water.

A charming and effective design that still makes us adopt twice all these years later. Watch the video below.

Autonomous marine system WAM-V with multiple domains (air, sea and underwater).

Source: Marine advanced robotics

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