Edge Computing and MQTT Help Uncrewed Vessels Gather Data from Oceans

6 min video  /  3 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: 20,000 (will grow with each new vessel)
  • Screens: more than 30
  • Clients: more than 50
  • Alarms: more than 1,000
  • Devices used: OnLogic IPC, CompactLogix PLC, NMEA Hardware, serial device sensors, various cameras
  • Architectures used: Hub and Spoke, Main Ignition Gateway on Azure, Ignition Edge Compute/EAM/MQTT on vessels
  • Databases used: MySQL
  • Historical data logged: more than 30,000 tags (will grow with each new vessel)

Project Overview

XOCEAN is an Irish company with offices in the UK and Canada that has designed and developed a fleet of uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) to provide data collection services to surveyors, companies, and agencies globally.

XOCEAN’s CyberDeck 2.0 system uses Ignition as its controls platform to create a web-based command and control interface for its fleet of USVs. The system allows XOCEAN to perform over-the-horizon operations with USVs in any marine location, and work with remote pilots in any location with internet access.



To achieve remote operation of a USV at sea, command data from the pilot onshore must be transferred to the vessel and data from the vessel must be made available to the pilot. Finding an efficient mechanism of achieving this was one of the key challenges faced by XOCEAN. In addition, onboard intelligence is required; for instance, the USVs onboard autopilot which uses real-time positional data to steer the USV to a target latitude and longitude. This and many other onboard systems are required to safely operate a USV at sea.

Other platforms require several independent software packages to solve these problems. This is complex and difficult to manage. The broad capability of the Ignition platform has allowed XOCEAN to build a web-based system with improved functionality and better user experience — all on a robust and secure architecture. Also, with the Ignition platform and XOCEAN’s agile development approach, new functions and features can be quickly developed and rolled out.



XOCEAN uses a hub-and-spoke architecture. A central Ignition Gateway on an Azure VM serves Ignition Perspective views to the end user’s web browser. Ignition’s user authentication and management tools securely determine who can access various parts of the system. The user is presented with intuitive interfaces and functions, ensuring he/she can focus on safety-critical actions at all times.

Using MQTT modules and Ignition Edge Compute, data is sent from the USV to a cloud infrastructure where the Perspective Module serves a range view out to the end users.

Alarming and Notification allow the USV pilot and other users to be aware of anything that requires attention. Inbuilt mapping functions of Ignition are used to provide users with a real-time view of positional information.



Ignition was chosen as the XOCEAN controls interface because it provides fully developed modules to create a robust, secure, and scalable solution. With Ignition, XOCEAN has developed Edge and central Ignition Gateway projects in less than six months, allowing a very swift migration of the entire USV fleet from the pre-existing Rockwell solution.

XOCEAN now has a scalable, secure, and flexible controls platform which puts the company on sound footing as it grows its fleet and enhances its product offering.

Project Information

Created By:   XOCEAN

Using uncrewed surface vessels (USVs), XOCEAN provides turnkey data collection services to surveyors, companies, and agencies. From mapping the seabed to environmental monitoring, the XOCEAN platform offers a safe, economic, and carbon-neutral solution to collecting ocean data. XOCEAN has operated in 14 countries, delivering more than 100 projects including seabed surveys on 16 offshore wind farms for numerous clients.

Website: xocean.com

Posted on October 1, 2021