A18D in business for AUV Services

Monday, April 01 2019
ECA GROUP demonstrates high performance of its mid-size AUV during deep survey missions

As announced in early 2018, ECA Group signed a cooperation agreement for subsea robotics services to Oil & Gas companies with a leasing offer of its latest generation A18D AUV creating a new dimension for its AUV Services activity.

Throughout 2018 ECA Group conducted with success several deep survey missions. This new generation AUV demonstrated its capabilities to perform multi sensors surveys during deep operations (around 2,500 m below to the sea) in the Mediterranean Sea.


A comprehensive Survey Solution: high performance & ease-of-use for A18D

High quality data for high precision cartography


The A18D is the most compact multi sensor AUV on the market for long endurance deep water survey (up to 3,000m). This long endurance AUV performs up to 40 km2 of high resolution imagery per mission.

Thanks to its unique 3D navigation accuracy, outstanding data (MBES, SAS, SBP) were gathered in a single survey at a depth over 2,500m, with a perfect bottom altitude tracking at 25m. In the same survey multi sensor are used to obtain the best information.

MBES is used for the bathymetry and Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) for high resolution imagery.

With its highly accurate inertial navigation the A18D provides centimetric XY resolutions of the bathymetry data. Unlike deep sea surveys with a boat, the measurement is much more accurate and less sensitive to the effect of sound velocity profile (eg no effect of surface thermocline).

A 90m swath acquisition
A 90m bathymetric swath acquisition


Swath of 90m (10 pings integration)
Global Digital Terrain Modeling of a 1Nm² survey between 2450m and 2500m


With a SAS, the resolution is constant at 3cm*3cm ... no decimetric object can be missed.



Multiple detection of small rock (less than 10cm)
Multiple detection of small rock (less than 10cm)


An example of long and narrow debris see at 2455m of depth, 6m length, 15 cm of height
An example of long and narrow debris see at 2455m of depth, 6m length, 15 cm of height



The very high quality of the data, especially on shadows, allows to quickly recognize objects


A 1m object long, 50cm of width and height.
A 1m long onject, 50cm of width and height


Environmental data (in particular Sound velocity) are acquired throughout the mission (descent/survey/reassembly) in order to be taken into account during the Post Mission Analysis with the best accuracy.

Thanks to internal synchronization features, all sensors are working together providing localized bathymetry and imagery data of the same objects.



Wreckage imagery made by ECA GROUP AUV


Debris analysis made by ECA GROUP post mission analysis software
Bathymetry made by ECA GROUP AUV


Easy to Use, Launch & Recover

Human safety and material integrity can be exposed during recovery phases, thus, they are critical.

ECA GROUP developed a dedicated LARS – Launch and Recovery System – for its AUV A18D. This simple and robust system enables the operator to operate the AUV safely and easily, even in harsh conditions.



Easy to Use, Launch & Recover

Human safety and material integrity can be exposed during recovery phases, thus, they are critical.

ECA GROUP developed a dedicated LARS – Launch and Recovery System – for its AUV A18D. This simple and robust system enables the operator to operate the AUV safely and easily, even in harsh conditions.


A18D, a stand-alone AUV for deep survey using simple LARS solution compatible with different lifting systems
A18D – Simple and safe LARS solution


Without moving parts or hydraulics, the LARS of the A18D is particularly reliable and easy to maintain or repair and requires no complex preventive maintenance.

The A18D can be also recovered very simply even when it is switched off thanks to an internal emergency rope , offering to the operators several contingency plan, reducing risks.


A18D – Dismountable LARS for simple and quick access during maintenance phases
Stand-alone solution compatible with different lifting systems: Crane or A frame


A complete system from the toolbox to the final report

Beyond the unmanned vehicle, ECA GROUP proposes a complete operational system including the LARS and a comprehensive software suite for mission planning, real time mission monitoring as well as data post processing and report generation.

To comply with standard requests this map oriented software suite can read or generate formats such as XYF, SEG, SEGY or TRA to make the most of the data collected throughout the mission.

To get the best from its unmanned vehicles, ECA group has developed various software managing all steps of the mission from the initial planning up to the final report generation. All these software have been merged in a comprehensive and homogeneous map oriented software suite.


Superseding offshore survey requirements

The A18D is a multi-operation AUV able to perform missions for scientific and offshore market. This AUV is the perfect platform to perform specific missions such as :

  • High resolution imagery and bathymetry
  • Sub bottom profiling
  • High resolution pipeline inspection,
  • Leakage detection (Methane)
  • Acoustic detection and localization (FDR/VDR..)
  • GAPS, a portable USBL system working as a cost-effective stand alone solution to be deployed from any ship of opportunity

Mission driven design

Compact, reliable and extremely stable, the A18D offers the best platform for deep water survey enhancing the data quality while reducing integration and expenditure costs.

Measuring 5 meter and weighing 500 kg, the A18D can be easily operated form different kinds of vessels: from 18 meters multitask catamaran to 75 meters and over offshore supply ship.

Reliable, endurant (more than 20 hours at depth) and stable (roll and pitch <<0,15°/s) the A18D is the perfect platform to collect high resolution data from very performant sensors such as Synthetic Aperture Sonar and Multi Beam Echo Sounder.

Its unique design and advanced navigation features guarantee a high level of stability and positioning to provide the best quality of gathered data. Over its own central navigation system it is linked with surface control station and through dedicated acoustic means it can be regularly repositioned to achieve unsurpassed positioning accuracy.

Its smart Altitude Following Mode (AFM) allows the vehicle to keep gathering high quality data even on rough bottoms of seabed.

Fitted in standard with Side Scan Sonar (SAS in option), Multi Beam Echo Sounder, Sub Bottom Profiler, Physical and Acoustic sensors. ,

ECA GROUP proposes the A18D vehicle with a sensor suite based on the best products available on the market. Nevertheless, this suite can be configured according to customers’ specific requirements.

The vehicle design provides the AUV with high level of reliability. Like a ROV, the A18D AUV has a modular design composed of several removable parts with a quick access to electronics modules, which is a significant asset for day to day operations and maintenance as well as for repairs onboard a mothership during operations.


Harsh conditions are a standard for offshore industry ...and the A18D!



In addition to the LARS, the A18D is equipped with a patented underwater catching system securing the AUV recovery in harshest conditions. This unique solution to enables the operator to recover the AUV in safer conditions before surfacing, reducing risks to the personnel and the asset.

Patented underwater catching system
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