At last week’s Euronaval 2016, Thales and 19 French SMEs introduced the new AUSS concept (Autonomous Underwater & Surface System), the world's first hybrid unmanned system capable of operating both above and below the surface. AUSS is designed for a broad range of civil and military roles, including intelligence gathering, maritime counter-terrorism, mine countermeasures and offshore platforms surveillance.
Capitalizing on 10 years’ experience with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) deployed on mine countermeasures missions, Thales has developed a dozen high-tech innovations for the new AUSS system.
With these innovations, the system is capable of conducting an unprecedented range of civil and military missions that were previously impossible either very complex to perform with existing AUVs.
These missions include surveillance and naval intelligence gathering on the surface, undersea warfare (mine countermeasures) and maritime counter-terrorism. Civil missions include surveillance of underwater infrastructure such as offshore oil and gas installations.
Designed for total maneuverability, AUSS can control its depth whilst moving in any direction and even when it is stationery. It is also exceptionally agile: if encountering threats or obstacles it can perform a 180° turn in less than 10 meters.
With this 360° agility, the vehicle can also stabilize a sensor mast deployed several meters above the surface, which is not possible with any other underwater vehicle of comparable size.
To meet the need for permanent surveillance, the Thales-designed AUSS offers superior endurance, making it possible to conduct missions lasting several weeks and spanning hundreds of kilometers.
AUSS employs latest-generation sensors to ensure that the information captured during its missions is of the highest quality and relevance.
With its 21” (53 cm) diameter hull, the system is designed to be launched and recovered from any type of naval vessel and from the shore. The system can be configured for different missions to optimize resource utilization for customers.
“With AUSS, Thales is bringing a completely new concept to the unmanned maritime systems market. We are sure that its unique set of operational capabilities will open up new horizons for civil as well as military organizations involved in maritime surveillance and protection,” said Pierre-Eric Pommellet, SVP Defense Mission Systems at Thales.
“The launch of AUSS at Euronaval is a key milestone in a collective project that has been conducted over the last three years at the Thales site in Brest and in partnership with 19 SMEs. It marks the coming of age of the unmanned maritime systems industry in France,” he added.
AUSS is based on a systems approach that has been extensively proven by Thales over a number of years for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) and undersea warfare operations.
The new concept is the result of a joint effort, with a total of 19 SMEs based in Brittany, Anjou and Paris taking part in the project alongside Thales for the last three years.
Sea trials have already been conducted on five occasions in 2016, confirming the system's ability to perform a broad range of missions and deploy the latest generation of sensors.
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defense and Security markets. With over 22,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements.