Robot Ships?

When the Navy's Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) set sail from Port Hueneme, Calif., in December of 2009, it was under the control of RTP Corporation's Critical Control and Safety Systems. The SDTS, is deployed to allow the Naval Surface Warfare Center to test the effectiveness of defensive systems.

In a typical test, weapons will be fired at a test barge pulled 150 feet behind the ship. The barge is equipped with defensive weapons which, if effective, protect both it and the ship pulling it.

Due to the ship's proximity to the barge, it operates unmanned. The RTP Critical Control and Safety Systems will operate all aspects of the ship, including the four LM2500 turbines that provide propulsion and steering control.

The complete RTP system consists of four RTP 2500D redundant controllers and one RTP2500S simplex controller controlling all aspects of the ship's operation including steerage, shaft control and the operation of the LM2500 turbines. All of the systems communicate over RTP's redundant SIL-3 rated 100 megabit host network.

HPI designed the system to replace the existing analog controls, creating a fully integrated remote control system allowing the SDTS to operate unmanned at sea. This control system allows shore based personnel to control the ship's speed, course and machinery during weapons drills. 

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