Just south of the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay, dozens of container ships find anchorage while they wait their turn to be unloaded in the Port of Oakland. This is where Strategic Mobility 21 (SM 21), a San Diego based non-profit organization, hosted a Humanitarian Emergency Response Scenario at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) Joint Interoperability Field Experimentation (JIFX) 15-2. SM 21 partnered with Marine Advanced Research to bring new and emergent technologies together for a full-scale, joint-operation exercise employing an array of unmanned autonomous aerial and surface vehicles and sensors. Dr Larry Mallon, President SM 21, summarized participation in the quarterly event: “From all indications and direct feedback from Defense and Homeland Security observers, the event was a smashing success highlighting the role of autonomous vehicles such as WAM-V in protecting our ports and coastal cities and responding to both natural and man-made disasters”.
The WAM-V (Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel) provided enhanced maritime domain situational awareness in a simulated pandemic emergency. Marine Advanced Research equipped their 16’ WAM-V unmanned surface vessel (USV) with an InstantEye Mk2 Gen3 sUAS quadcopter aerial drone and a Promia video data link system. The video data link system provided a live video feed from the WAM-V back to the Command Center over four miles away. Once alongside the container ship, the aerial drone took off from the top deck of the WAM-V. This allowed the emergency responders to assess the situation onboard the container ship from a safe stand-off distance. In an actual emergency response situation, this capability would provide an emergency command post with the necessary information to plan a rapid response that would minimize exposure to front-line personnel. Added Mallon, “This first ever proof of concept integrating marine surface and aerial platforms and sensors represents the ‘wave of the future’ for port security in serving as environmental and operational data collectors with the ability to divert and respond to emergencies in the traditional manner of volunteer fire companies when called upon!”