French project to develop seabed surveying solution for great depths using AUV swarms

French project to develop seabed surveying solution for great depths using AUV swarms

Three French companies have joined forces for a project that aims to develop an innovative solution for precise seabed surveying at great depths using swarms of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for ocean floor mapping.

Source: Exail

The ongoing development for the CARMA (Mineral resources mapping by AUVs swarms) project involves creating a solution in which a multi-sensor underwater drone capable of diving to 3,000 meters will coordinate multiple AUVs to increase the surface of the exploration area.

The research program also includes the development of advanced collaborative navigation, acoustic communications, positioning, and innovative mapping capabilities.

Exail, RTsys, and ABYSSA have established a strategic partnership for the project, while Bpifrance is co-funding it under the #France2030 initiative.

Exail’s improved deepwater AUV A18-D will serve as the leading AUV to guide the swarm, enabled to navigate down to 3,000 meters, at close altitude from the seabed over sloped terrains, and to accurately geolocate swarm’s acquired data.

RTsys will extend the capabilities of its newly developed AUV COMET-3000 to dive up to 3,000 meters, with multiple units to be provided to act as followers, along with the development of an innovative launch and recovery system for the AUV swarm. ABYSSA will focus on developing exploration strategies for deepwater swarms of AUVs and will process the magnetic data collected to map the magnetic anomalies on the seabed.

An operational demonstrator is expected to be deployed at sea in 2026, paving the way for future commercial phases. Concurrently, the project will carry out a preliminary study on extending exploration capacity to 6,000 meters of depth.

“Thanks to this project we have the opportunity to work on the development of an AUV swarm operating at 3,000 meters depth. This allows us to enrich our expertise, innovate in the deep-sea field and demonstrate our swarm capability. The studies conducted thanks to the AUV swarm will provide scientific knowledge and contribute to the inventory of underwater heritage,” said Marine Postec, Project Manager at RTsys.