A18-M is the new-generation mid-size AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) developed by ECA Group to meet the challenging requirements of underwater mine countermeasures.

This AUV is designed for Mine Counter Measures missions can operate autonomously in the close vicinity of the smartest mines without triggering them, while keeping crew out of the danger zone.

It is the perfect compromise between size, weight and endurance. Easily deployable, while still packing a large payload capacity

In compliance with STANAG 1364 norm, this underwater drone is dedicated to sea mines detection and classification. This AUV is able to detect any kind of hazard such as improvised explosive devices, pollutants, as well as provide very accurate maps of the seabed which allow the environment to be assessed with high fidelity.

This unmanned system is easy to integrate and operate from a MCM vessel, a non-dedicated ship or INSPECTOR 125 USV and is air-transportable for overseas missions.

 

a18-m: a new generation of auv leveraging on a long-lasting expertise

The A18-M AUV benefits from twenty years of experience in the development of AUVs by ECA Group, inheriting from:

  • The ALISTAR 3000 developed in 2003 for the needs of the offshore oil industry,
  • The AUV Daurade and AUV of Mine Warfare for the DGA
  • The A27 within the framework of the DGA ESPADON programme and currently being delivered as part of the MMCM France-UK programme
  • The A9 portable AUVs which are in service in several navies including the French Navy
  • The A18D (3000 m of immersion) developed in 2015 for the needs of offshore oil and science

A LONG ENDURANCE COMPACT AUV FOR SAFE AND FAST MINE COUNTERMEASURES OPERATIONS

The A18-M is an underwater drone capable to carry out missions requiring long operating endurance (up to 24 hours), up to 300 meters underwater depth.

The A18-M is able to host high performance sonar payloads, such as synthetic aperture sonar (SAS), which provides unprecedented performance.

Due to its very high area coverage rate of 2km2/hr, very large areas (20-40km2 depending on transit distance)  can be covered in a fraction of the time of legacy assets with reduced risk to personnel and with far superior image quality, due to it's high stability which makes this AUV  much less affected by waves than a surface ship or a towed system.

This robust underwater drone is light and easy to operate, enabling it to be quickly deployed from any ship and recovered even in bad sea state.

The AUV A18-M adapts its operating depth to the environmental conditions, avoiding blind zones due to sound speed stratification.

transportability

This solution is easily transportable by road and plane for oversea missions thanks to ISO containers transportation . The AUV is part of the UMISTM In The Box. It  is a MCM transportable solution for ECA Group's drones that is easy to deploy from shore or mothership.

 

High quality data for high precision cartography with a New Generation SAS

A18-M provides accurate seabed survey capabilities due to its high stability which makes this AUV much less affected by waves than a surface ship or a towed system.

Thanks to its unique 3D navigation accuracy, outstanding data can be gathered from different sensors in a single survey. The 18-M is equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) for  high resolution imagery, Multibeam Echosounder (MBES) or Volume Search Sonar (VSS) can also be fitted.

The UMISAS sonars on board the A18-M AUV and T18-M towed sonars are interferometric synthetic aperture sonars (InSAS) that aim to obtain a spatial resolution in the order of 3cm x 3cm to best classify small and irregularly shaped objects (in the order of 50cm on the side perpendicular to the sonar's axis of view).

The positioning of the support required to form the synthetic antennas is an integral part of the UMISAS process. UMISAS directly uses the data from the A18-M or T18-M inertial unit to perform SAS processing, thus eliminating the use of navigation sensors dedicated to the SAS sonars on the market, which are less efficient and therefore do not allow geo-referencing of the images formed, and above all are much less reliable.

In order to navigate with the precision required for the SAS, the UMISAS sonars use a technique protected by an ECA Group patent.

Thanks to internal synchronization features, all sensors are working together providing very precise localized and very high quality data, obtained, especially on shadows, allowing to quickly recognize objects.

This naval drone is able to adapt its operating depth to environmental conditions and avoid blind zones which can be due to sound speed stratification.

Deployable from a Mothership, any Ship of Opportunity or from the Ashore

A18-M can be easily integrated into the mission module of the mothership or deployed as a part of a MCM toolbox from any ship of opportunity or be operated from the shore. Its compactness and its very low logistic footprint are the main advantages allowing a great flexibility of deployment and recovery. ECA Group has developed a specific, simple and safe Launch and Recovery System. In addition to the LARS, the A18 is equipped with a patented underwater catching system securing the AUV recovery in the harshest conditions. This unique solution enables the operator to recover the AUV in safer conditions before surfacing, reducing the safety risk to personnel and the asset.

certifications

  • STANAG 1364 compliant system

users

  • Search and rescue operators
  • Harbour authorities
  • Clearance Divers

typical missions

  • Seabed survey
  • Rapid area assessement
  • Mine identification and classification

applications

features

  • Light deep water vehicle
  • Easy Launch and recovery in bad sea state condition
  • Easy deployment for overseas missions (ISO containers transportation)
  • Extended coverage and endurance capacities
  • User friendly mission management system
  • Rapid environment assessment
  • Automatic Target Recognition (ATR)
  • Integrates best high-performance sensors and specifically SAS (Synthetic Aperture Sonar)

benefits

The AUV A18M offers many advantages such as:

  • A compact design (<700 kg for a 3000m system) allowing a simple and economic integration on ships of opportunities or already existing
  • Can be deployed from a USV ( Unmanned Surface Vehicle) thanks to its compactness
  • Modularity allowing an easy integration of sensors of latest generation guaranteeing high quality rendering
  • Innovative means of launching and recovery allowing easy and possible deployment in harsh environmental conditions
  • Superior technical performance compared to market products offering unequaled quality and price ratio for a return on investment two to three times better.

Advanced Features Reducing Operations Downtime

Advanced embedded processing allows to process in real time the sonar image raw data and extract a list of contacts to be relayed back to the command center using an advanced communication network using unmanned surface vessel (USV) INSPECTOR or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) such as IT180 acting as gateway.These contacts are then reviewed onboard a mothership or onshore by sonar operators who may task other assets for identification and disposal if required.

The AUV is equipped with specific algorithm for Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) to aid the operator during classification process. The ATR module includes several functions with high level algorithm in order to automatically detect contacts. Manual measurement and aided tool are also available. The positions and patterns can be transferred very simply to other ECA Group drones to reduce mission's duration.

A complete Data Management software UMISOFT

A18-M is a reliable solution integrating a post processing data management tools with a user-friendly interface. ECA GROUP offers a complete operational system including a comprehensive software suite UMISOFT for mission planning, real time mission monitoring as well as data post processing and report generation.

In compliance 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.

Advanced on-board processing allows to process the image data to extract a list of contacts which are relayed back to the command center using an advanced communication network, with an unmanned surface vessel acting as gateway. These contacts are then reviewed by expert sonar operators who may task other assets for identification and possibly disposal.

Fully Integrated into UMISTM ECA Group Drones System

Fully Integrated into UMISTM, ECA Group Drones System.

AUV A18-M can be integrated within a larger unmanned system, such as ECA Group’s UMIS (Unmanned MCM Integrated System) and benefit from common C2, communication network as well as data processing system UMISOFT.

UMISTM allows to collaboratively use all ECA GROUP’s surface or underwater unmanned systems. This drone system approach allows to work in “swarms” to reduce missions’ duration and affect different types of drones to different tasks.

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.

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