The DGA, France’s defence procurement agency, has selected Exail’s A18D autonomous underwater vehicle for seabed monitoring operations.
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Under the agreement, the French Navy is expected to rent an A18D autonomous underwater system for approximately two years.
The contract includes academic and operational training for 12 sailors, which is expected to upskill them on the use of the AUV and how to interpret critical data collected by the vessel.
According to Exail, the vessel can undertake a range of missions to 3,000 metres in depth including mapping, sonar imaging and high-resolution pipeline and cable inspection. It can also be housed on an array of different ships.
The A18D can operate autonomously for 24 hours, reaching speeds of six knots and capture 40 square kilometres of imaging during each mission.
The AUV is expected to allow the French Navy to detect and identify objects underwater, chart the seabed and characterise the nature of the seabed.
“We are proud to participate in this seabed program and to put all of Exail’s technology and the know-how of our teams at the service of France’s ambitions in this area of sovereignty,” Dominique Giannoni, chief executive officer of Exail, said.
The A18D is not the only autonomous vessel designed and developed by Exail.
Recently, the company developed the Ulyx for the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, which is expected to be able to explore up to 6,000 metres deep.
Meanwhile, the company recently received a contract to experiment a hydrographic unmanned surface vehicle from the French government’s procurement agency.
Dubbed the DriX, the system is designed to enhance underwater inspection and mapping capabilities, with the upcoming experiment designed to verify the findings of the previous tests.
The tests are also designed to optimise launch and recovery procedures for the vehicle and will be conducted alongside the French Navy’s hydrographic and oceanographic service.
The contract is expected to last for six months commencing in February 2023 and is valued at €500,000.
According to the company, the previous tests saw the capability undertake bathymetric surveys to nearly 200 metres, comparing the DriX to alternative USVs currently in service.
The company is currently developing solutions for SEA 1905-1.