Unmanned Systems News

Subsea Sensors for Intelligent Underwater Drone Inspection

Published: 14 Oct 2021 by

French deep tech company ELWAVE is leveraging extensive research undertaken at the Bio-Robotics Laboratory of the Institut Mines Telecom (IMT) Atlantique in Nantes, on “electric sense” technology (active electrolocation).

ELWAVE is the first and only company in the world to develop subsea sensors based on its proprietary electric sense technology called “BLUESENSE”.

Electric Sense Technology for Intelligent Underwater Drone Inspection

“Electric sense” is a mode of sensing used by tropical fish living in muddy and heavily congested waters, where vision and acoustics are ineffective. Natural evolution has led these fish to acquire this alternative mode of perception adapted to their environment. Based on this biomimetic approach, the ELWAVE solution is the only one in the world to provide the detection, localisation, and characterisation of the environment at 360 ° and in real time for underwater and industrial robots – remotely operated (ROV, ROTV) and autonomous (AUV).

As part of the European “Green Deal”, ELWAVE is taking another step towards more environmentally friendly offshore solutions through its ESENSE project.

ELWAVE’s ‘BLUESENSE’ technology is particularly key to the safe and efficient use of underwater drones that can autonomously change their objectives during a mission, based on instantaneous and reliable perception of the environment.

The objective of the ‘ESENSE’ project is to market solutions that will allow IMR (inspection, repair, and maintenance) operations of offshore wind infrastructure to be performed by these intelligent drones as well as by small observation ROVs. Based on the “Green Deal” objectives of 100 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, ELWAVE’s technology will enable the large-scale deployment of subsea drones and will generate a reduction in the operating costs of offshore wind turbines to the tune of 500 million euros.

The company conducts its research, development, and qualification activities in its new high-tech premises near Nantes, equipped with test pools. These pools are equipped with automatic, three-dimensional test benches that allow for customised tests that are representative of real-life conditions. The pools are filled with saltwater and one of them is lined with 50cm of sand to be able to simulate, as close as possible to reality, the seabed, and buried objects.

ELWAVE is currently preparing its first operational deployments scheduled for 2022 in collaboration with world leaders in offshore surveys, and offshore wind farms operators in search of better inspection solutions for subsea structures and cables.

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