Empowering autonomy at sea

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As the maritime industry makes its transition towards more efficient and environmental-friendly autonomous operations, Exail, a world-leading developer of industry changing autonomous and uncrewed technologies, has been ramping up its production of DriX Uncrewed Surface Vehicles (USV) to meet the industry growing need for efficient and sea-proven uncrewed platforms.

With over 20 DriX in operation worldwide, Exail USV, that was launched back in 2017, has been met with a strong interest from the industry and is benefiting from steadily growing commercial success. Certified by Bureau Veritas (BV) and Lloyd’s Register, the USV has already been acquired, deployed or used by several private and public operators for hydrographic missions, scientific monitoring and other subsea positioning operations. Those includes governmental institutions such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Polish Navy, the French Hydrographic Institute (SHOM), or the French Research Institute for Ocean Science (Ifremer), as well as survey contractors and operators in the energy market such as Total Energies, Ocean Infinity, Sulmara, WAMS and other rental companies including Unique.

The DriX USV is being deployed from the Ocean Exploration Trust E/V Nautilus during an exploration mission in the Pacific Ocean

In order to help its clients and partners in their transition towards remotely supervised maritime operations, Exail has developed a complete ecosystem around its DriX USV. Through certified launch and recovery systems, towed vehicles, purpose-made payload gondola adaptations, supervision software, as well as a comprehensive service offer, Exail provides a complete end to end uncrewed ecosystem, enabling efficient and successful uncrewed operations, from the coastline to greater water depths.

Best-in-class USV for hydrography, scientific monitoring andacoustic subsea positioning

Leveraging 5 years of successful track record around the world, the DriX USV is now recognized as the leading Uncrewed Surface Vehicle in terms of operational efficiency and measurement quality. Owing to its unique sea keeping capabilities, the DriX USV can operate up to sea state 5. Its controlled dynamic, coupled with the tight integration of its acoustic payloads, leads to best-in-class measurements and data quality. Thanks to its enhanced energy efficiency – DriX offers very low fuel consumption compared to traditional vessels – the USV further offers high endurance for multiday missions at sea, as well as a drastic reduction of marine operations environmental footprint. Owing to these unique features, the DriX USV now benefits from a proven trackrecord of enhancing the overall end-to-end operational efficiency, from preparation and execution to client data delivery.

The DriX USV is being deployed from Oceanographic survey vessel Beautemps-Beaupré during sea trials with the Shom

CortiX software: powering autonomy at sea

At the heart of the DriX autonomy, lies the CortiX software framework; a comprehensive software solution that powers the USV autonomy, navigation safety, data management, as well as robust Over The Horizon (OTH) operations. Comprising both DriX on-board autonomy, as well as an Intuitive User Interface, CortiX relies on an advanced architecture with a web-based interface that can be accessed either as an Edge or Cloud solution.

Its core functional blocks include:

• CortiX Autonomy – for mission planning and execution
• CortiX Safety – for obstacle avoidance and vehicle health monitoring
• CortiX Data – for on-board data management and acquisition
• CortiX Horizon – for communication infrastructure management

Exail further provides various levels of API (Application Programming Interface) as per users’ specific needs to enable a smooth integration with 3rd party software package.

Robust Over The Horizon operations

With its multi-channels redundant communication system, the DriX can support both Line Of Sight (LOS) or Over The Horizon (OTH) operations. This system includes 4G, Kongsberg Broadband Radio, Silvus Network Radio, Iridium Certus, or Starlink Satellite. Over the past two years, the Exail teams have indeed put tremendous efforts into the development of a robust and highly performant communication infrastructure to support OTH operations. In full OTH mode, DriX is further able to select the best communication mode depending on the environment, while smartly managing the use of bandwidth to guarantee critical data priorities. Relying on those developments, the DriX USV is now routinely operated hundreds of nautical miles away from shore for multiday missions.

Sea-proven multi-vehicle collaborative autonomy capabilities

Multi-vehicles operations that combine subsea and surface assets is one of the next frontiers in the field of maritime autonomy. Deploying multiple maritime drones working collaboratively indeed brings further operational efficiency and expand the operational envelop. Used as a surface gateway that support AUV and ROV subsea operations in terms of acoustic communication or positioning, the DriX USV has one of the most established track-record in supporting multi-vehicles collaborative operations and provides a high level of situational awareness to the crews that operate the subsea assets. With its uniquely low acoustic signature, the DriX gondola, located 2 m below the surface, provides an optimal environment for the conveyance and operation of acoustic positioning and ACOM equipment. Acoustic equipment can thus be operated with the lowest surface interferences and be used at their best performance, resulting in highly reliable AUV/ROV communication and tracking while the subsea assets conduct their missions.

An Exail surveyor supervises a multi-DriX operation from the onshore Control Center

A comprehensive service offering

From offshore and remote support, extensive training courses, as well as a comprehensive documentation, the Exail teams – whether in-house experts or highly skilled and trained freelancers – are there every step of the way, from mission planning and field mobilizations to operations and maintenance, helping our clients and partners deploy Exail technologies and smoothly transition towards uncrewed marine operations.