Inertial Navigation & Positioning Technology for Unmanned, Autonomous Systems

Subsea Tracking Demonstrated with ROV and USBL

The demonstration for the Polish Navy showed that accurate positioning of underwater targets is possible even in highly challenging acoustic conditions By Mike Ball / 27 Jul 2022

R7 ROV and Gaps M7 USBLiXblue and ECA Group have confirmed that the two companies have recently demonstrated successful subsea asset tracking in shallow waters using iXblue’s Gaps M7 USBL (Ultra Short Baseline) positioning system and ECA Group’s new R7 ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle).

Hosted by local partner THESTA, a Polish company providing maritime navigation services and communication systems for the defense sector, the demonstration was organized for the Polish Naval Academy and NAVSUP 2022 attendees with the aim of showing that accurate positioning of underwater targets is possible in potentially hostile coastal environments characterized by shallow waters and often limited access.

As part of the mission scenario, ECA Group’s R7 ROV investigated objects and structures submerged in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea in Gdynia harbor. iXblue’s Gaps M7 USBL acoustic positioning system was deployed to geolocate the R7 ROV and correct its trajectory in real time. A fixed transponder was also placed several hundreds of meters away from the vessel, at only 5 meters deep. The trials were carried out in water depths of 7 to 10 meters, surrounded by many docks and vessels causing significant acoustic echoes.

Despite challenging acoustic conditions, the positioning of the ROV and the transponder were stable and accurate. Extremely efficient in shallow waters, Gaps M7 ensured excellent horizontal tracking capabilities with omnidirectional coverage and 200° acoustic aperture. With no calibration required, it was easy to deploy and ready to use, saving precious operational time in the field.

The ROV inspection was successful despite the low visibility. Such environments make the use of traditional cameras impossible, but the HD acoustic inspection camera performed remarkably, providing high-resolution data with superior localization accuracy. The R7 combines the compactness and maneuverability of mini-ROVs with the performance and power of professional observation-class ROVs. It carries a wide range of fast-equipped payloads and operates well under harsh sea conditions, making it ideal for navies with requirements for quick and efficient subsea interventions.

Cezary Majchrowicz, Technical Director at THESTA, commented: “The R7 ROV along with the Gaps M7 USBL acoustic positioning system is able to transmit information accurately, even in noisy and difficult acoustic environments. They both enable fast operation as well as regular and quick position updates, even in very shallow waters, which is a definite asset for the navies, given their need for a fast, clear and concise picture of the battlespace to quickly maneuver naval forces in the field.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact