Case Study

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs)

An emerging market with potential to reshape geopolitics.
  • Small USV/UUV powertrains are still hobby grade.
  • Battery selection dominates powertrain design.
  • Vehicles must work (and be maintained) as part of a fleet.

Demand for marine-grade motors and drives, particularly those for unmanned or single-occupant vessels, is soaring

We work with cutting edge maritime technology companies every day, and have spoken with dozens of engineers across the unmanned marine space in the past year. Those conversations have directly informed the design of our Ruggedized, IP67-rated Cyclone variant - a 70V, 300A continuous Motor Controller.

Small USV/UUV powertrains are still hobby grade

We want to be clear - "hobby grade" isn't an insult, and we aren't here to point fingers. After all, rapid prototyping using hobby electronics is often a critical tool for designing electromechanical systems. Development of sUAS and associated technologies have been greatly accelerated with this approach.

However, we've seen many organizations struggle to transition out of the prototyping phase and into production, being forced to continue using consumer-grade products for critical functions. Sometimes the change is painful due to a design nuance, but more often we hear that commercial-grade alternatives are just not available at a tolerable price. We're looking to change that.

Battery selection dominates powertrain design

At this point, none of us are surprised when "batteries" and "supply chain challenges" are mentioned in the same breath. For those designing small, electric unmanned systems, the off-the-shelf battery options within their cost and weight tolerance are limited. As such, the choice of battery is often made early, limiting the number of compatible control & propulsion options. The Ruggedized Cyclone is designed with a wide operating voltage range to accommodate your battery, accepting supply voltages between 18 & 70V.

Vehicles must work (and be maintained) as part of a fleet

All of our COTS products are designed as Line Replaceable Units (LRU's), but we took this into particular consideration when designing Ruggedized Cyclone. When we say plug & play, we mean it.

[1] LaGrone, Mallory Shelbourne and Sam. “Navy Will Stand up Lethal Drone Unit Later This Year, First Replicator Usvs Picked.” USNI News, February 15, 2024.

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