iXblue’s subsea technologies have been selected by the French National Institute for Ocean Science (Ifremer) for integration into a new 6000-meter AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle). The CORAL (Constructive Offshore Robotics ALliance) AUV has been equipped with iXblue’s SAMS-150 synthetic aperture sonar (SAS), Phins C7 inertial navigation system (INS) and Echoes 5000 sub-bottom profiler, and will utilise the company’s Delph Software suite for SAS and navigation post-processing.
The SAMS-150 SAS is available as an AUV payload and provides expanded capabilities for shallow- to deep-sea applications compared to conventional side-scan sonar. The system’s interferometric sonar will deliver co-registered full-swath backscatter and bathymetry data, increasing the achievable resolution and coverage rate of ultra-deep water AUV surveys. The Delph SAS processing software will ensure seamless integration into the system workflow. The accurate coupling of SAS beam-forming and micro-navigation with the inertial navigation data from the Phins C7 will result in optimal resolution and image quality even under challenging environmental conditions. Delph SAS will also integrate the co-registered multi-beam echosounder data, delivering full-swath bathymetry and sonar imaging. Due to reduced need for overlapping survey lines, the CORAL AUV can maximise its coverage rate and autonomy will be maximized, saving both time and expense.
Sonar mosaics at a grid resolution of up to 5×5 cm will be fully corrected from geometric and radiometric distortions and accurately positioned in real-time. High-precision relative pixel positioning is achieved through the high level of coupling with the Phins C7 INS, while absolute submetric precision is provided by the acoustic positioning system solution. Delph-INS enables the fusion of surface USBL positioning and the AUV’s INS in post-survey processing, providing near-perfect line matching for improved map consistency, data interpretation and targeting accuracy.
Lionel Fauré, technical and business manager of iXblue Sonar Systems Division, commented: “We are very excited to be on board the CORAL project and to offer turn-key SAS technology to Ifremer scientific and hydrographic surveyors. With extended expertise in combining sonar, inertial navigation and acoustic positioning technologies, iXblue has developed one of the most advanced and accurate solutions for seabed mapping.”
“Over the past 25 years, we have built a strong partnership with Ifremer. iXblue is very proud to contribute to this technological breakthrough for ultra-deep-water survey and to work in collaboration with Ifremer to push the boundaries of deep-water exploration challenges.”
Jan Opderbecke, head of the Unit for Underwater Systems at Ifremer, said: “As an outcome of an international tender published in 2019, Ifremer has chosen the Sams-150 for its advantageous functional characteristics in terms of swath width and resolution, at the full 6000m below the surface capability. The antenna’s dimensions suit Ifremer’s AUV design perfectly. Successful former experience with Echoes 5000 will be reconducted with the upcoming, optimized new generation release of the sub-bottom profiler.”