France tests underwater robotics for future seabed mapping missions


Sonar image of the AUV A18D. (Photo: ECA Group)

The French Navy and the DGA put an autonomous underwater vehicle to the test.

The Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy and the Navy (SHOM), in collaboration with the DGA, evaluated the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) A18D of the ECA group.

This assessment was conducted with the Future Hydrographic and Oceanographic Capacities (CHOF) program in mind, ECA said on October 11.

The AUV was launched from the French Navy offshore support vessel Rhône on “a wide variety of missions to accurately map the relief and the seabed up to 3000 m deep, in the currents and swells of the Atlantic”, added the company.

The A18D can operate autonomously for 24 hours to perform inspection and 3D mapping missions of the seabed.

“The example of the A18D tested showed a high level of reliability and was easy to install and use, thanks to its optimized size-to-weight ratio (5.7 m-780 kg) and its intuitive user interface .

In addition, the teams of the French Navy and SHOM were able to assess the potential of using a drone to “accompany and enrich” underwater robotic missions, noted the ECA.

The CHOF aims to update and develop French capacities for acquiring and processing oceanographic and hydrographic data, by replacing three crewed vessels with autonomous platforms.


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