Futura-sciences.com : AUV A6K the new explorer of deep sea
Published on Futura-Sciences.com, March 2017
Written by Jean-Luc Goudet
"Provisionally called A6k, the AUV represents the new generation of heavy underwater exploration craft of Ifremer. Today, in addition to the gliders and observatories on the sea floor, French oceanographers have the venerable Nautile (1984), a mini-submarine that can carry three people (two lying down and one sitting). Capable of descending to 6,000 m, the latter gives access to 97% of the ocean floor. However, it is expensive to use, with all the logistics it imposes, and can only stay eight hours under water.
Since 1998, the imposing Victor completes it. Without a crew, this submarine of 4.6 tons is connected to the ship by a cable: it is a "remotely operated" vehicle, or ROV (Remoted Operated Vehicle), which does not prevent it to go down to 6.000 m. To free themselves of this connection, which mobilizes pilots on the boat during the dive, Ifremer adopted in 2004 AsterX then IdefX. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), 800kg autonomous submarines capable of remaining 14 hours under water, can communicate with an acoustic modem if necessary and carry out a series of measurements Programmed. However, they only go down to 2,850 m.
The AUV A6k will follow its mission and remain stationary
Logical conclusion: the next submersible will be an AUV capable of diving up to 6.000 m, hence the "6k" in the project name. Ifremer, after an international call for tender, chose the French company ECA Group within the framework of the alliance "Coral" (alliance for the development of offshore submarine robotics), with the Provence-Alpes region Cote d'Azur and the European Union. The research institute is in charge of the project and will carry out the scientific instruments.
With its multibeam sonar, it can map the bottom accurately and in three dimensions. Endowed with a good level of autonomy, this underwater drone will also be able to maintain hovering above the same point, which the current AUV can not do. The future scientific instrumentation is described as "complete" but it is clear that the small submarine is particularly adapted, in addition to mapping, "to missions such as deep-sea mining exploration, gas or gas pipeline inspections Oil, rescue missions and exploration of mineral resources, "said Claude Cazaoulou of ECA Group.
The rest of the specifications are yet to be defined. It will take three years of development, which has already begun. The first dives are scheduled for 2019."
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