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ECA Group chosen by Ifremer to develop an innovative ultra-deep Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)

Tuesday, January 24 2017
ECA Group was recently awarded a contract more than 2 M€ with Ifremer (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) for the development and delivery of an ultra-deep water (6000 m) AUV dedicated to survey and inspection.

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ECA Group has been chosen by Ifremer (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) through an international call for tender establishing the CORAL ALliance (Cooperative Off-Shore Robotics ALliance), facilitating project development with selected industrial partners. (see press release )

ECA Group will be the prime partner in the CORAL Alliance (Cooperative Off-shore Robotics ALliance), created by Ifremer. The aim of the project? Promoting innovation and competitiveness in an integrated concept, linking ocean science to marine industry. The CORAL ALliance is funded by Ifremer, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region and the European Union (FEDER program). As major stakeholder, Ifremer will be driving the project with engineering and R&D efforts, technical and naval means for qualification of the new system, therefore fostering innovation and expertise on a regional, national and European level.

ECA - Ifremer - Coral project - AUV 6000 m - A6K

Technological breakthrough for deep-sea survey and inspection

“The association of long endurance survey and low altitude hovering capabilities will have high potential in various fields of application. For future commercialization by ECA Group of this AUV branded A6K, the system specifications are particularly interesting for missions such as deep sea mining survey, oil / gas pipeline inspections, rescue missions and mineral resource exploration”, underlines Claude Cazaoulou, Director of Sales and Business Development from ECA Group Robotics Division in Toulon.

“The new vehicle will be deployed from French and international oceanographic research vessels in missions involving other deep water intervention vehicles, starting with Ifremer’s Victor 6000 ROV and Nautile manned submersible” explains Jan Opderbecke head of Underwater Systems Unit located at Ifremer facilities in Toulon.


After a development period of 3 years, the AUV will accomplish its first dives in 2019.


ECA-Ifremer: Long lasting industrial cooperation

“ECA Group and Ifremer have a strong industrial relationship built over the last 30 years” says Claude Cazaoulou, at ECA Group. “We have developed projects such as EPAULARD, the very first autonomous robotic submarine capable of taking photographs at a depth of 6000 m. More recently, ECA Group was strongly involved in developing HROV Ariane for Ifremer, a new hybrid technology which combines the ability to gather high resolution data in 2500 m water depth, performing vertical inspection and intervention tasks while reducing operational expenditures, through the implementation of a ROV and AUV systems in the same architecture.”


Key player of French drone industry

This contract for scientific ultra-deep AUV confirms ECA Group’s position as the only French industrial company having the experience and technology for developing and selling all over the world dedicated solutions for naval robotics: AUVs, USVs and ROVs. This is especially the case for AUVs as ECA Group was recently confirmed as the AUV supplier for the defence program MMCM FR/UK (see press release).

ECA Group offers a wide range of underwater and surface drones AUVs, ROVs, USVs for hydrography, survey, inspection and defence. Based on decades of robotics expertise and experience, ECA Group has developed solutions from man portable AUV such as the AUV A9 to a biggest systems such as the AUV A18 and the AUV A27 ranging from 200m to 3000m water depth capacity and able to massively reduce time and costs of underwater operations thanks to a complete package of mission management and post-processing and with the capacity to form drones systems (UMIS) which can collaborate or operate in swarm mode in order to accomplish a mission.

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