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Autonomous Boats to Sail Into the Energy Sector

Autonomous vehicles and their technology are the cornerstones of what Uber, Tesla, and other car companies, as well as Airbus and other airlines are piloting. Although developments in autonomous cars are getting the most attention as we have reported in depth, there are other autonomous vehicles being developed for diverse purposes. There are autonomous boats for oceanographic readings and monitoring, as well as drone boats for surveillance platforms.

Among autonomous boats, it is common to have solar power with extended use for a back-up battery. High-tech sails propel autonomous boats. These boats forward their location every minute and communicate with their base through a satellite link.  It ensures that the command center is aware of the boat’s location and situation all the time.

Autonomous Boats for Monitoring

The use of an autonomous boat eliminates the need for human crew to engage in dangerous missions or critical operations. It also takes care of repetitive or routine work which can take a toll on a person’s energy and health.

To launch an autonomous boat, a route is programmed, and activities are mapped and monitored. Once deployed, the vessel continuously streams and transmits information to a satellite. With solar power, an autonomous boat can continue with its mission until it is retired or retrieved.

ocean aero's submaran sailing on sea
Autonomous boats aren’t getting as much attention as autonomous cars, but the future for them is happening now.

Recently, the Sailbuoy Met became the first unmanned surface vehicle to cross the Atlantic. It won the 9th Microtransat Challenge by traveling from Newfoundland, Canada to Ireland. The Challenge has start and end points for the race but left the route to the autonomous boat developers. The Sailbuoy Met made the trip in 80 days, from June 7 to August 26. It took the boat 5,100 km to traverse the 3,000 km track. The Microtransat Challenge was created to contribute to the development of ocean-monitoring platform. It also provides a learning opportunity to observe how actual ocean conditions affected autonomous boats.

Offshore Sensing’s Sailbuoy and Autonomous Vehicles

A company based in Norway has been testing autonomous boats for almost ten years now. They developed the Sailbuoy Met and tested it extensively in the North Sea, which has harsher sailing conditions than the Newfoundland-Ireland route. The autonomous boat is two meters long and weighs 50 kg. It is 100% wind-driven and has a top speed of one to two knots. It encountered varying wind conditions ranging from calm seas to strong gale. Like a sailboat, it tacks to move against the wind. After the competition, the autonomous boat continued onwards Norway,  clocking in another 1,300 km.

The Sailbuoy proved effective in transmitting data regularly. It can measure ocean and atmospheric parameters as well as aid in tracking oil spills.  A mobile device or computer can track the autonomous boat.  It can also work as an effective communications relay station for other subsea instruments or equipment.

Additionally, the Sailbuoy has solar cells along the top of the boat which power its electronics. The boat can run its electronics for one year without recharging thanks to its onboard batteries. Sailbuoy boats have monitoring instruments including wave sensors, oceanographic sensors, water quality sensors, echo sounder, and meteorological sensors. It communicates its location with the use of an Iridium satellite system.

As a monitoring system, the Sailbuoy was on a 62-day mission in the Gulf of Mexico. The autonomous boat conducted several monitoring activities which measured various parameters. The deployment demonstrated the usefulness of the vessel’s measurements.

Autonomous Research Boats

Several companies are pursuing the development of autonomous boats with the intention of tapping them for oceanographic research.Other autonomous ocean research boats already in use include Wave Glider, the world’s first unmanned autonomous robot powered by the wave energy propulsion system. There is also the  SailDrone which uses a sail. Lastly, there’s the solar-powered C-Enduro.

Interestingly, the Ocean Aero Submaran is a different design from those above. It is a submersible boat which can reach depths of 660 feet. On the surface, the Ocean Aero has an airfoil sail which it uses for navigation. Before submerging, the Ocean Aero’s sail folds onto the top of the craft. The Ocean Aero is 13.5 feet long, 8 feet high and weighs 280 pounds. It is useful for surveillance and information gathering. More importantly, defense may be one of Ocean Aero’s best features.

The advantages of autonomous boats are their endurance durability and resilience. Moreover, these are small vehicles which have research tools and sensors. These can run a racetrack pattern or move from one waypoint to another. Gathering information 24/7, these tools are low maintenance and useful for months at a time.

Is Search the Missing Ingredient to Propel your Business?

While some believe search engine optimization is less relevant today for businesses, nothing could be farther from the truth. With effective SEO strategies, businesses gain increased trust from consumers. This, in turn, encourages social media sharing and word of mouth marketing that further strengthens your business’ brand. However, while these are clear benefits to SEO strategies, search engine optimization best practices are in constant flux. Why? It is because Google and other search engine companies are constantly changing their algorithms. Therefore, for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage, they need to stay abreast of the best SEO strategies. The following represent five of the most important search engine optimization trends for 2018.

Primary SEO Strategies – Quality Still Matters

Many businesses tend to focus too heavily on keywords and search phrases when pursuing their SEO strategies. Notably, these are still important. However, increasingly, the trend by search engines is to identify high-quality content. What does this mean? Content targeted by other reputable sites as quality information (back links) can drive higher quality ratings. Likewise, content that receives more user traffic can do the same (a chicken and the egg issue). All SEO strategies should, therefore, strive to provide high quality, informative content to their customers. Then other search engine optimization efforts can examine keywords and forward links to make the content richer, but the priority is to create good quality content first.

It’s All About the Experience

Increasingly, best practices in SEO strategies have shifted toward a focus on the experience of visitors to a website. While exact search engine algorithms do not define exactly what an experience-centric website represents, some key insights are evident. First, websites and content that immerse the reader in rich, quality information are important.

In addition, other features are becoming more important as well. Websites offering efficient navigation, multiple content formats, and other aspects that drive customer value increasingly defines the good experience. Not only should SEO strategies pursue search engine optimization through quality content. They must also do so with attention to the user experience simultaneously.

Search Engines Are Increasingly “Sculpting” Your Site

If you were in the search engine business like Google, your focus would be on customer experience during search activities. You wouldn’t want your customers having low-quality web pages pop up on their search results. What would you do to ensure a better customer experience? You would likely be proactive and find higher quality web pages for each site to highlight. This is exactly what Google and other search engine companies are doing. This “sculpting” process involves ranking some web pages on a site lower or higher than others. However, you don’t have to rely on Google to determine which pages on your website are most valuable. Businesses can use indexing and other strategies to help Google target those web pages you think are most valuable. These activities reflect other important SEO strategies in search engine optimization efforts today.

woman pointing at SEO surrounded by words pertaining to seo strategies
Ever heard of clients complaining about the decline of content quality? It’s time to change your strategies.

Lengthier Content is Becoming Preferred

Traditional SEO strategies tend to promote brief, concentrated content. However, trends suggest that this is losing favor among customers. Search engine optimization content that tailors short attention spans may no longer be the best approach.

Many consumers, especially Millennials, want to be educated and more informed. Therefore, longer content may be preferred over shorter content that only focuses on sales and calls-to-action. This is an important trend for many businesses to realize.

Rather than quick blurbs that make a brief impression, more extended and informative content might better drive transactions. These search engine optimization efforts have notable implications in your SEO strategies.

Search Engine Optimization Should Be Integrated

SEO strategies that only focus on website content is a thing of the past. Today, search engine optimization efforts must be integrated among all types of media materials. Various types of media your business uses include social media, paid media (Google Ads), and earned media (outside media). This is in addition to your website content and any blogs you provide. SEO strategies perform best for your business when integrated across all of these areas. By integrating your search engine optimization efforts, your business can also get more out of your data analytics.

Overwhelmed? Consider Hiring an SEO Expert

To keep up the constant changes in SEO strategies and search engine optimization techniques can be daunting. Not all businesses have the resources needed to invest in current search engine optimization trends. If this is the case, then hiring an SEO expert can be a great move. In addition to keeping up with current SEO strategies, an SEO expert offers many additional advantages. It includes greater content consistency, enhanced time efficiency, and more effective branding efforts. Regardless of whether an SEO expert is needed, knowing recent search engine optimization changes is important. Aligning your business’ SEO strategies with these changes can make a big difference in the competitive advantage your business enjoys.