Leveraging state-of-the-art expertise in inertial navigation systems (INS), iXblue has developed the Phins Compact Series, a complete range of subsea INS specifically designed to improve accuracy, bring reliable cost-efficient navigation solutions to all UUVs and that is now recognized as a world leader for autonomous navigation.
The rise of autonomous platforms on the defense sector
Recent years have seen the rise of all types of autonomous vehicles, from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
(UAVs), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to untethered Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) operating in the challenging subsea environment. Offering a flexible turnkey solution for a wide range of military applications, UUVs continue to evolve as a growing, dynamic solution in the defense sector. Able to operate in difficult-to-access as well as hazardous areas where navigation is challenging, UUVs offer a flexible, cost-efficient and safer alternative that acts as a force multiplier and enhances the performance of traditional solutions for various applications including Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA), mine countermeasures, border surveillance and security, monitoring of smuggling of illegal products, as well as antisubmarine warfare.
“In many regards, UUVs are some of the most, if not the most advanced autonomous platforms in the world. They are the only ones that are always forced to operate in a GNSS-denied environment.” Explains Robert O’Malley, Business Development Manager at iXblue Defense Systems. “This is why the navigation solution is such an essential component. Because the navigation brings such a critical capability, we understand the importance of our position in the market. iXblue is not just a supplier of inertial navigation systems. We believe that we can actually bring more robust autonomy to the platform including a growing importance in providing the positioning solution with our Gaps Global Acoustic Positioning System.”
Reliable navigation for enhanced autonomy
iXblue, recognized worldwide throughout the industry for its pioneering work on the development of Fiber-Optic Gyroscope (FOG) technology that has revolutionized the maritime and naval inertial navigation systems (INS), has thus put extensive efforts in R&D to develop new innovative autonomy technologies. A key focus for the company, robust and reliable navigation solutions have thus been developed by iXblue and the company is now considered a major actor of this new autonomous era.
Over the years, iXblue has developed long-lasting partnerships with various key industry players including private companies, research institutes and governments, to fully understand and anticipate the needs of the UUV market in order to remain at the forefront of technological advancements. By truly understanding all specific aspects of the UUV market and its challenges, iXblue was thus able to develop the Phins Compact Series INS, especially designed to offer a scalable and highly accurate and reliable navigation solution that enhances UUV autonomy.
Phins Compact Series: the world leading solution for UUVs navigation
The Phins Compact Series is a genuine strap-down solid-state system free of moving parts that offers quiet and stealth autonomous navigation and does not interfere with sonars and other payloads acoustic noise, while also providing increased autonomy to the subsea platforms thanks to its very low-power consumption. Launched back in May 2016, the Phins Compact Series has since then been chosen by major UUVs manufacturers and integrators to provide reliable autonomous subsea navigation.
Comprising the Phins C3, C5 and C7, the Series offers a fully scalable and ITAR-free solution that allows UUVs industry players to choose the inertial navigation system the most suited to their needs, whatever the platform’s size and mission type. Available in OEM versions, the Phins C3, C5 and C7 share identical architectures and interfaces and incorporate the same algorithms and software, enabling customers to re-use the control system on any other type of UUV via modern interfaces such as Ethernet, reducing initial integration costs. Benefiting from an MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of over 100,000 hours, without any need for preventive maintenance, the Phins Compact Series guarantees the highest level of reliability and robustness and is now considered as the standard navigation solution on which UUVs can rely to be fully autonomous.
“iXblue’s success on the UUVs market rely on many factors. One is, of course, our unrivalled FOG technology. But another of our strong suits are our advanced algorithms. Everything is about data nowadays, and data is key to highly reliable navigation. We can think of an UUV as being a mix of a lot of very good sensors, including DVL, GPS, USBL and LBL to only name a few. The challenging part to make the platform fully autonomous, is to merge all those data to provide a reliable navigation capability.” States Robert O’Malley. “Thanks to our advanced algorithms and Unscented Kalman Filter, our inertial navigation systems have now become the prime sensor fusion engine, from a navigation, position and timing standpoint. This is why we are able to bring more robust autonomy to those unmanned platforms. Overall, we have the best technology available for the navigation of UUVs today and this translates into the sheer number of iXblue systems that are now roaming the oceans in full autonomy.”