As part of the future hydrographic and oceanographic capability (CHOF) program for the French Navy, the DGA awarded a contract to iXblue (now Exail) for a new experimentation of the DriX - hydrographic Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) – on September 26, 2022.
As a true maritime drone, the DriX will extend the capabilities of underwater inspection and mapping. This new experiment aims to validate the drone’s performance observed during previous trials carried out in the Iroise Sea in late 2020. The planning of complex missions, as well as the quality of hydrographic surveys and data processing are among the functionalities expected of this latest generation drone.
This six-month contract, worth €0.5 million including tax, is also an opportunity for the DGA to further study an optimized means of launching and recovering the drone, in order to have a complete solution adapted to the needs for its implementation. This study is being followed by the DGA Project Engineering and DGA Naval Engineering expertise and test centers.
The experiment is scheduled to take place on the hydrographic and oceanographic vessel ‘Beautemps-Beaupré’ in February 2023 in the Mediterranean Sea, in collaboration with the French Navy’s hydrographic and oceanographic service.
The experiments with surface, underwater and aerial drones carried out during the preparation phase of the CHOF program are intended to identify the most appropriate and efficient means of surveying to meet hydrographic survey needs.
The previous DriX experiment in October 2020 allowed bathymetric surveys to be carried out at different depths, reaching nearly 200 m in the Ushant Trough. The aim was to evaluate its added value compared with the systems currently in service (launches and hydrographic vessels), and to understand its potential use for the CHOF program. In particular, the deployment of two USVs in collaborative mode was tested. (Photo © Exail: DriX USV and French Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Vessel ‘Beautemps Beaupré’)