Thales and Aquabotix Team Up on Subsea Drones

Thales and Aquabotix have signed an MoU for strategic cooperation for the research, design and development of a rapidly deployable Mine Counter Measures (MCM), Rapid Environment Assessment (REA) and Military Hydrographic autonomous system mission solution.

This project is a collaboration with Australian Academia and SMEs including the University of Sydney, Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), Flinders University, Western Sydney University, Mission Systems and Ineni Realtime and will focus on the development and integration of Aquabotix’s swarming technology known as SwarmDiver.

To achieve a variety of missions, swarms of micro-sized Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), hosted by a larger AUV or Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV), are deployed to prepare and facilitate an amphibious landing zone to support any Advanced Force.

This task is enabled by the integration of a next generation SwarmDiver with an autonomy engine that will plan the mission, task the swarm and monitor the rate of mission completion,rapidly adapting to changes in environment throughout the mission while coordinating with the parent task group.

This advanced autonomous capability will greatly increase the speed and reliability mined areas can be cleared in the littoral, delivering a game changing advantage by minimising the adverse impact of mines on naval and commercial shipping activities both domestically and abroad.

The project team’s research and development activities should advance SwarmDiver’s current sensors to include magnetometer, neuromorphic, optical and sonar, enhancing SwarmDiver’s ability to work independently and/or collectively in the execution of mission sets such as Surface Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), sub-surface Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA), Mine-Like Object (MILCO) detection and localisation, mine target recognition and ultimately, mine neutralisation.

Dr. John Best, chief technical officer, Thales Australia and New Zealand, said: “The technologies of artificial intelligence, big data, connectivity and cyber security are now reaching the levels of performance that will enable transformational change in the capability to autonomously undertake hydrography and mine countermeasures missions. With the potential to further remove ADF members from harm’s way and accelerate the speed of mission execution, this initiative will contribute to enhanced maritime security and freedom of action for amphibious forces.

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