Underwater drones, or Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) are nothing new in subsea security.
But that didn’t stop French manufacturer Thales from creating a sensation at the Euronaval trade fair with a beast of a different stripe: the Autonomous Underwater & Surface System (AUSS). This elegantly designed drone can not only carry out underwater missions—inspecting offshore oil installations, for instance—but also can operate at the surface by positioning itself vertically and deploying a mast above the water.
We interviewed Jean-François Ghignoni, Marketing Director for Underwater Systems at Thales to learn more.
NauticExpo e-Magazine: When did the project begin and how did you get the idea for this new type of drone?
Jean-François Ghignoni: The project began in 2012. Thales already had significant experience with underwater minewarfare AUVs, and we thought such unmanned systems could have other applications, including civilian ones. We recognized that they had two major shortcomings: lack of surface capability and limited maneuverability. We put on our thinking caps and asked ourselves what kinds of innovations we could put into the next generation. In the end, we came up with a dozen innovations.
NauticExpo e-Magazine: The AUSS can turn around in less than 10 meters. What gives it such great maneuverability?
Jean-François Ghignoni: Its propulsion system works without fins. I can’t go into the details of the technology due to confidentiality issues. What I can tell you is that our drone doesn’t need to be moving through the water to maneuver. It also has a dynamic buoyancy control system.