Subsea technology company, Sonardyne International Ltd, has delivered its latest consignment of AvTrak 6 acoustic communications and navigation hardware to defence and security company Saab’s subsidiary Saab Seaeye.

Offered as an optional-fit sensor on the Sabertooth hybrid AUV/ROV, AvTrak 6 forms part of the vehicle’s integrated navigation and communications system. It allows mission updates, status checking and navigation aiding to be wirelessly sent to and from the vehicle, eliminating the need for the vehicle to re-surface or dock with an underwater garage.

The unique design of Saab’s Sabertooth vehicle allows it to be configured as a conventional tethered ROV or free- flying AUV depending on the operational requirements of the user. It is depth rated to 3,000 metres, has a long excursion range and is equipped with a control system that affords it six degrees of freedom. This level of manoeuvrability makes the vehicle suitable for a wide range of subsea tasks including light intervention and inspection duties within the offshore oil and gas sector.

AvTrak 6 adds to the versatility of the Saberbooth vehicle by combining the functions of an acoustic tracking transponder, transceiver and wireless modem link in a package that consumes only a small amount of payload space and power. It is available in a variety of configurations including depth ratings to 7,000 metres, electronics-only (OEM) for customer integration and a customisable command language that offers features such as mission abort and ballast jettison.

During missions, Sabertooth pilots use AvTrak 6 for AUV-to-Vessel and AUV- to-AUV communications. This enables mission and status updates on operational vehicle parameters to be sent and received. Often when navigating across the seabed, AvTrak 6 is used to update the vehicle’s inertial navigation system with precise range data gathered from nearby transponders deployed on the seabed in support of oilfield survey and construction activities.

AUVs are generally operated from survey vessels equipped with Ultra-Short BaseLine (USBL) tracking technology. These systems allow the position of the vehicle relative to the vessel to be precisely tracked via a transponder

attached to the vehicle. AvTrak 6’s USBL mode replaces the need for a separate transponder saving valuable space and is compatible with both Sonardyne and third-party systems including Kongsberg’s HiPAP®. An internal battery provides power and supports an emergency transponder mode for vehicle relocation.

Speaking about Saab’s decision to supply Sabertooth vehicles equipped with AvTrak 6s straight out of the factory, Alan MacDonald, Sales Manager for Sonardyne in Aberdeen said the announcement was, “Recognition of the versatility and unrivalled performance this multi-functional acoustic technology provides”. He added, “We are delighted to report this latest order and look forward to supporting Saab and their clients during vehicle delivery and operational commissioning.”

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