Australian start-up Aquabotix this week signed an agreement with French defense multi-national Thales to research and design mine countermeasures using aquatic drone technology.
This project is a collaboration with Australian Academia in conjunction with the University of Sydney, Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), Flinders University, Western Sydney University, Mission Systems Pty Ltd and Ineni Realtime.
The plan will focus on the integration of Aquabotix’s next generation ultra-portable swarming drone technology known as SwarmDiver. SwarmDiver is a micro-aquatic drone that can tackle surface and underwater missions as a single vehicle or in a swarm.
In swarms of 30 units, the drones can dive on command and collect underwater data for surveying, aquatic research, surveillance and reconnaissance for military and commercial users.
Aquabotix CEO Whitney Million says:
“Aquabotix is thrilled to be working with Thales to accelerate the development of a rapidly deployable autonomous MCM and military hydrography mission system. This collaboration brings together Thales’ capability as a world leader in underwater technology, including 30 years of experience in developing advanced MCM solutions, and Aquabotix’s expertise in the development of leading-edge single operator deployable autonomous maritime solutions to deliver a system that will accelerate the speed of mission execution while keeping service members at a safer standoff distance.”
Deploying autonomous drone technology in the water could increase the speed and reliability in clearing mined areas, delivering a game-changing advantage by minimizing the danger of mines on naval and commercial shipping activities.
Leveraging Thales reputation in the development of advanced underwater technology, the project team’s research and development activities will advance SwarmDiver’s current sensors to include magnetometer, neuromorphic, optical and sonar, enhancing SwarmDiver’s ability to work independently or collectively in mission scenarios.
In other news…
Earlier this year, Aquabotix launched the Integra AUV/ROV (autonomous underwater vehicle/remotely operated vehicle) – the company’s second-generation hybrid, underwater drone.
The Integra is equipped with configurable sensor arrays and can be deployed by a single user. Aquabotix officials say the AUV is ideal for scientific research, inspections or law-enforcement/defense ops.