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25 Jul 13. French Navy demonstrates Alister 100 AUV capability. The French Navy is conducting ECA robotics-built Alister 100 lightweight autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) trials as a preliminary to receiving six AVUs over the coming months. The 2m-long Alister 100 AUV weighs 70kg and will be used by the French Navy as underwater drones to support mine warfare missions. In 2010, the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) had awarded a contract to ECA Group to design, develop and deliver six Alister 100 AUVs for the French Navy. Under the contract, the company will deliver the underwater systems for the French Navy’s mine disposal diver group for testing by the end of 2013. Following completion of trials of the autonomous vehicles, the French Navy officials will use the testing results to decide whether to deploy the system for operational missions. Capable of conducting port clearance missions, the GPD will deploy the systems for supporting missions such as a seabed survey or reconnaissance, as well as advanced operations including in very shallow water, or for channel assault. The AUV, which can be operated by two sailors sitting on a dock or onboard an inflatable boat, is fitted with advanced systems and sensors to provide an accurate navigation capability for the navy to detect potential underwater mines. In addition to supporting minehunting operations, even in narrow sea areas such as channels or inlets, the autonomous underwater vehicle can be used to exchange of information with other combat systems used for mine warfare. The vehicle is also equipped with a Klein-type sonar, designed to operate on different frequencies, in order to support either sensing range or image definition, depending on operational circumstances. (Source: naval-technology.com)

24 Jul 13. Germany’s court of auditors lambasts defence ministry on drone costs. Germany’s powerful federal court of auditors accused the defence ministry on Wednesday of failing to impose any proper cost control on a €660m development programme for unmanned drones, abandoned in May when costs looked set to double. The cancellation of the contract for five Euro Hawk surveillance aircraft has brought potentially embarrassing demands for the resignation of Thomas de Maizière, German defence minister, just as the country’s general election is heating up. He is one of the closest advisers to Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and is now facing a grilling in an emergency parliamentary inquiry into the affair, after being accused of lying to the Bundestag about when he first heard of the scale of the problems plaguing the programme. In evidence on Wednesday, a senior official from the court of auditors, whose job is to oversee all government spending, told the inquiry that defence ministry officials had been “starry-eyed” about the project for years before Mr de Maizière became minister. (Source: FT.com)

24 Jul 13. Bluefin and MIT validate AUV plug-and-play payload autonomy. Bluefin Robotics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT)
Laboratory of Autonomous Marine Sensing Systems (LAMSS) have successfully demonstrated the MOOS-IvP payload autonomy concept, installed on a field exchangeable Gumstix computer, on the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US. Conducted on Bluefin-9 and Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), the payload, also known as backseat driver, has demonstrated its capability. MIT LAMSS director professor Henrik Schmidt said the plug-and-play autonomy capability will serve as a critical enabler for efficient field deployment of the payload autonomy operational paradigm. From one set of topside equipment, the MOOS-IvP has served as unified communication, command and control infrastructure for managing multiple vehicles, under the payload autonomy operational paradigm. The team initially connected the autonomy software payload to a laptop computer to test the mission configuration with a simulation environment, represent

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