The French Navy, along with the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and the Naval Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (Shom), has evaluated ECA Group’s A18D Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).

This assessment was undertaken as part of the Future Hydrographic and Oceanographic Capacity (CHOF) programme.

Under this armament programme, the aim is to update and develop the country’s existing capacity in terms of acquisition and processing of oceanographic and hydrographic data.

The A18D AUV, which was embarked on the Offshore Support & Assistance Vessel (BSAM) Rhône of the French Navy, undertook several missions to accurately map the relief and sea beds down to a depth of 3,000m.

This was done by the underwater drone both in the currents as well as swell of the Atlantic.

The AUV comes with optimised size-to-weight ratio (5.7m-780kg), and is easy to install and operate, and has an intuitive user interface.

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Under the supervision of ECA’s team, the onboard crews of the DGA, the French Navy and the Shom could assume charge of the AUV and be autonomous at all stages of the mission.

These stages involved the preparation, launching, supervision of the measurement campaigns, and recovering the vehicle and the data secured.

A18D also acquired quality high resolution images.

These trials enabled the maturity of A18D to be measured.

ECA Group noted that the feedback enabled the teams to assess the potential of using a drone to boost the missions of hydro oceanography.

A18D is claimed to strike a balance between endurance, performance, compactness, data quality, and modularity.