September 17, 2007 UK-based defense contractor QinetiQ is preparing to demonstrate the Sentry – an unmanned watercraft the size of a jet-ski that’s set up to perform remote-controlled patrol, reconnaissance and damage assessment missions. Its six hour mission endurance and control range of up to 16 nautical miles will make this stealthy vehicle a very practical security tool.
Sentry, a fast unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance craft developed by QinetiQ, brings together military design requirements with a compact water Jet Ski platform.
Combining an advanced stealth design, high-speed performance and the ability to carry multiple payloads, Sentry is designed for a variety of mission roles including remote unmanned harbor patrol and security, battlefield reconnaissance and damage assessment along with intruder investigation.
Safe and simple to both maintain and operate, the craft’s modular design allows for simple upgrade or payload changes and support for remote control, autonomous and regular operations. Capable of speeds of up to 50 knots and with a proven endurance of around six hours, it has an overall length of 3.5m, a beam of 1.25m and a height above the waterline of just 1.1m. A simple PC-based remote control operations console allows full control of the vehicle and the onboard features from a non visual line of-sight operations location.
The basic payload includes microwave datalink communications and camera with payload options comprising stabilized real-time day / night high resolution cameras, a full lighting rig that meets current maritime navigation standards, a loud-hailer system and a smoke marker launcher. The enhanced RF control enables Sentry to operate at up to 16 nautical miles – radar line-of-sight. There is also an autonomous system control module and autonomous mission planning software option.
“Sentry will provide both military and civilian users with a fast, cost effective and efficient in-shore vessel that can perform a variety of reconnaissance and security roles,” stated Andrew Bailey, MD for QinetiQ’s sea business. “By combining many of the key research aspects from our recent autonomous control, stealth and marine vessel design programmes with tried and tested commercial Jet Ski design means it has speed, agility, reliability and good endurance plus the ability to fulfill a growing number of user requirements.”
Safety considerations were also a key consideration for this high speed craft. Its underlying semi-autonomous control system prevents Sentry from breaching designated areas, while a range of other safety control features further enhance its ability to protect itself, the user and civilians.