Russia recently launched its first ship equipped with
unmanned navigation capabilities. The Pioneer-M will be the first vessel in
Russia to test unmanned navigation technologies and will be used to advance the
deployment of the capabilities.
The launching ceremony of the research vessel took place at
the Sredne-Nevsky shipyard. A catamaran built of composite materials, the
Pioneer-M is approximately 85 feet long and displaces 114 tons. The vessel uses
an integrated control system and is designed to interact with marine mobile
research laboratories. It will have a maximum speed of 10 knots and can operate
autonomously for five days with a cruising range of 500 miles.
“The launching of the Pioneer-M research vessel is a landmark
event in the Year of Science and Technology,” said Deputy Prime Minister of the
Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko. “This project was developed by students
from seven of the country's universities and is a clear example of cooperation
between higher education, science, and industry.”
The Pioneer-M is being built for the Sevastopol State
University. Teams of the country's leading shipbuilding universities, including
in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Arkhangelsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, and
Vladivostok, proposed ideas for the ship working in collaboration with the
Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center as a strategic partner. An inter-university
student team led by teachers and mentors from the United Shipbuilding
Corporation created the concept of the R/V Pioneer-M.
“We see this vessel in the near future as an unmanned
vehicle on the water,” said the head of the USC Alexei Rakhmanov. “The
corporation is gradually introducing automated systems, the appearance of which
brings us closer and closer to the era of unmanned navigation. This is not only
the minimization of costs in the construction of ships, cheaper transportation,
but also a decrease in the environmental load on the water areas of rivers and
The research vessel is currently being outfitted at the
shipyard. The plan is to operate the vessel year-round in the waters of the
Black and Azov Seas.