La Marseillaise.fr : Ifremer has chosen ECA Group to develop an innovative ultra-deep Autonomous Und
Published on La Marseillaise.fr, February 2017
Written by Guillaume de SAINT VULFRAN
Ifremer has just selected ECA Group to develop an ultra-deep self-contained submarine vehicle (AUV) for mapping and inspection. The opportunity to create a new structure to develop offshore submarine robotics.
Following an international call for tender, Ifremer selected ECA Group, an 80-year old industrial company based in Toulon to develop a new innovative autonomous submarine vehicle (AUV). A jewel of technology capable of reaching 6,000 meters of depth. The opportunity also for Ifremer to set up the Alliance Coral (Alliance for the development of offshore submarine robotics), thus facilitating the development of the project with its industrial partners, of which ECA Group will be the main partner.
The project's goal ? Promote innovation and competitiveness in an integrated concept, combining marine science and maritime industry. The new structure is financed by Ifremer, the Region and the European Union (under the ERDF program). As project owner, Ifremer will pilot the project and oversee the development of the new AUV as well as associated equipment and develop the embedded control software system.
The novelty ? The AUV should be able to carry out broad coverage acoustic mapping as well as optical inspections, stabilizing its position near the seabed without advancing. "The system will deploy a full range of scientific sensors in modular packages, innovative in optimizing design, range, load capacity and navigation capabilities. The AUV will facilitate the production of very precise georeferenced representations of marine environments in deep water, large surface areas, high resolution and multi-parameters, "explains Jan Opderbecke, head of the Underwater Systems Unit at the Ifremer Méditerranée Center, Based between La Seyne and Toulon. Simple on paper.
First dive in 2019
After a period of development of 3 years, the AUV will carry out its first dives in 2019. "The capacities of the system of this AUV, called A6K, are particularly interesting for missions such as exploration on the high seas, inspections of Oil and gas pipelines, rescue missions and the exploration of mineral resources, "said Claude Cazaoulou, commercial and business development director of ECA Group's Robotics division in Toulon. We are in full applied research.
"The new vehicle will be deployed from French and international oceanographic research vessels in missions involving other deepwater intervention vehicles, starting with our AUV Victor 6000 and our Nautile submersible," says Jan Opderbecke de Ifremer. An innovative communication device, currently under development at Ifremer, opening the field of explorations by very deep funds.
This is not the first time that the institute and the company specialized in underwater robotics have been working together. "We have developed projects such as the Killer Whale (in 1979, ed), the first autonomous robotic submarine capable of taking pictures at a depth of 6,000 meters. More recently, ECA Group has been heavily involved in the development of the Ariane HROV, again for Ifremer, a new hybrid technology that combines the ability to collect high-resolution data at a depth of 2,500 meters, "it concludes. Ifremer.