Colombian Navy's COTEnergy Boat offers sustainable and flexible coastal operations

The uncrewed vessel is powered by a 50 hp electric motor sustained in part by solar panels.
Can Emir
COTEnergy Boat
COTEnergy Boat


The COTEnergy Boat, a new electric boat, was recently showcased at the Colombiamar 2023 business and industrial exhibition in Colombia. 

The uncrewed vessel was built by Atomo Tech and Colombia’s state-owned naval enterprise, COTECMAR, and is powered by a 50 horsepower (hp) electric motor sustained partly by solar panels mounted on the top of the deck. The boat's compact and lightweight design makes it suitable for "intelligence and reconnaissance missions, port surveillance and control missions, support in communications link missions, among others."

The Colombian Navy (ARC) intends to deploy the COTEnergy Boat in April as a valuable tool for other navies to adopt. The boat's adaptability and ability to carry and power sensors make it limited in its scope but an effective platform for scientific and research expeditions. The COTEnergy Boat can also serve as a communications link between ships or between ships and other uncrewed vessels.

Uncrewed sea vehicles have been the focus of attention, with the introduction of small drone ships for regional powers and routine patrol work showcasing how far this technology has come and how widespread it is likely to be in the future. By putting sensors and communications links onto an uncrewed vessel, a navy can effectively extend the range of what can be seen by human operators.

COTECMAR is designing sustainable technological solutions for the energy transition, and the COTEnergy Boat is being incorporated into this offer. Making patrol craft solar-powered and electric is a step towards sustainable vessels. The boat's load capacity is 880 pounds, and it can sustain its autonomous operation for just shy of an hour.

Challenges faced by uncrewed ships include the lack of human presence, making them easier targets for other navies or maritime criminal groups. The same kind of Saildrones used by the US Navy to scout the Persian Gulf have also been detained by the Iranian Navy, with the risk of compromising data and data collection tools. However, the benefits of having a flexible, solar-powered robot ship outweigh the risks.

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