Discover the new Gaps M3 ultra compact USBL positioning system for offshore vessel permanent installation

Already consisting of Gaps M5 and Gaps M7, the Exail USBL range of positioning systems has recently welcomed its latest addition: the Gaps M3. Smaller, lighter, and more compact, it is still as powerful as ever. Embedding a MEMS Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS), it is a more affordable and ideal choice for operators seeking the best price/performance ratio in terms of positioning and tracking of subsea assets. With the Gaps M3 joining the Gaps M5 and Gaps M7, Exail now provides a complete family of USBL positioning systems to meet all customers’ needs, from shallow to deep water operations, and from portable to permanent installations.

A reliable USBL transceiver designed for permanent installations

Intended for permanent USBL installations, Gaps M3 is a USBL transceiver designed to track any subsea asset from all types of vessels, providing high-level precision to meet any operational requirement. It can be easily coupled with navigation systems already on board, such as Inertial Navigation System (INS) or AHRS, thanks to its compatibility with major gyros, AHRS, and motion sensors, which allows it to deliver absolute subsea positions or simply output relative positions over standard telegrams. In addition, Gaps M3 is compatible with major dynamic positioning (DP) systems providing USBL reference, range-aiding, and vessel LBL positions. As part of a turnkey DP solution, it can be complemented by reference transponders and a bespoke hoisting system also supplied by Exail.

Achieving maximum multiple target tracking and acoustic communication capabilities

Gaps M3 is equipped with the same 3D, 4-hydrophone acoustic antenna as the Gaps M5, which provides maximum aperture and allows for a unique 200° omnidirectional coverage. This translates into true horizontal tracking capabilities with no need to tilt the antenna, making Gaps M3 perfectly suited for operations in shallow water, especially when multiple vehicles need to be located simultaneously at 360°.

Much more than a simple USBL system, Gaps M3 comes with new telemetry features, enabling advanced acoustic communication capabilities. This means it can use its robust telemetry link to command-and-control AUVs, operate and calibrate LBL-array and recover seafloor sensors data. It can simultaneously communicate and track up to 14 targets and remains compatible with third-party transponders. Gaps M3 is available in an export-free version with a 995m maximum operating range and in an extended range version for operations down to 4000 water depths to meet offshore specifications.

A compact and easy-to-use system suitable for opportunity deployment

Benefitting from the renowned Gaps Series features, the Gaps M3 is compact, lightweight, easy to use, and can be utilized as a USBL system of opportunity on small survey vessels or even USVs. Its onboard MEMS AHRS unit allows easy deployment without time-consuming USBL calibration, giving a sufficient performance for shallow water or nearshore operations such as UXO surveys, search and recovery, as well as structure inspection.

“So far, our focus has been on offering calibration-free products with Gaps M7 and later with M5 back in 2020. However, in order to make the outstanding acoustic performance and versatility of Gaps accessible to more users, we are thrilled to introduce the Gaps M3. With its wide acoustic aperture, it delivers exceptional USBL performance, making it suitable for permanent installation on vessels for a wide range of shallow-water maritime applications, such as offshore wind, coastal marine construction, cable laying, and oil & gas operations” Explains Paul Urvoas, USBL systems Product Manager at Exail.