Operationnels.com: ECA Group launches latest generation MCM AUV

Wednesday, April 04 2018
ECA Group presented its next generation mid-size AUV A18-M dedicated to mine counter measures. Compact and  able to produce unequaled high-quality imagery this latest generation underwater drone  dedicated to mine hunting shown some of the amazing performances during a demonstration held in Toulon.

Published on Operationnels, April 2018.

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A18-M is the new generation of autonomous underwater vehicle  to perform in all water depths up to 300m missions such as mine detection and classification. It is specifically designed to operate with the smartest mines without triggering them.

“This mid-size AUV is the top trade-off between, size, weight and long endurance. Its payload capacity makes it able to host high performance sonar, such as synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) providing unprecedented detection and classification performances.” says Léonie Delacou, AUVs product manager at ECA Group.

More compact than previous generation of MCM AUV, A18-M is easy to deploy and can also adapt its operating depth to the environmental conditions.

Advanced embedded processing allows to process in real time the sonar image raw data and extract a list of contacts which are relayed back to the command center using an advanced communication network, with an unmanned surface vessel (USV) or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) acting as gateway. These contacts are then reviewed by sonar operators onboard a mothership or onshore, in order to launch identification and disposal.

An unequaled performance gain with a Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) onboard A18-M

The AUV A18-M integrates the Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) having very high area coverage rate of   2km2/hr - 5 and 10 times quick than conventional sonar embedded on AUVS. This optimal configuration enables to cover very large areas – around 20-40km2 in a fraction of the time of legacy assets, with far superior image quality, and with reduced risk to personnel and vessels.

The AUV is able also to detect any kind of hazard includinf IED, pollutants, and provide very accurate maps of the seabed, which allow the environment to be assessed with high fidelity.

“The performance gain is due to the very high resolution in both range and cross-range offered by a wideband SAS, of the order of 2.5cm x 3cm constant up to the edges of the swath, which is unachievable, at any practical range, by any other type of sonar on any type of platform. With the only possible exception of buried or concealed mines, all known mines can be detected and high quality classification cues can be extracted from the highlight and shadow structure.” says Dr. Marc Pinto Program Director for Systems of Robots and sonar expert at ECA Group.

A18-M joins the UMIS team: simultaneity & interoperability optimize operations at sea
AUV A18-M can be integrated within a more complete suite such as ECA Group's UMIS - Unmanned Maritime Integrated System -  to be integrated in common interfaces, communication network and processing system as the rest of the drone fleet. Thus increasing efficiency and clearance rate, enabling to achieve typical operations in at least 3 times shorter period.

“The A18-M joins now the ECA Group MCM robotic ‘team’ which is composed of the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) INSPECTOR MK2, the identification ROV SEASCAN and the expendable mine disposal vehicle, also called minekiller, the K-STER C. All of these robots can work together in order to accomplish tasks simultaneously or for INSPECTOR USV, to be used a communication relay to send gathered a preprocessed information (ATD – automatic target detection) to a command and control system on a mothership or on shore to deploy the identification and disposal vehicle. This is the first comprehensive unmanned maritime system that includes all types of naval robots: USVs, AUVs, ROVs and EMDS.“says Daniel Scourzic, UMIS (Umanned Maritime Integrated Systems) Marketing Manager at ECA Group.

Learn more: ECA Group unveils its new generation mid-size AUV A18-M for underwater mine warfare

Discover ECA Group AUV solutions

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