At the Euronaval show held in Paris this October, Thales revealed its Autonomous Unmanned Underwater System (AUSS). Combining a number of innovative technologies, the AUSS functions both as an underwater and surface vehicle with high manoeuvrability.
Thales refers to its AUSS as a hybrid drone in reference to its ability to be used as both an underwater and surface system. Underwater, using a range of technologies that Thales could not disclose, the AUSS is capable of moving in every direction as well as maintaining buoyancy. Whilst being used as a surface vehicle, the AUSS has the capacity to remain stable so as to deploy a mast, which can capture images as well as perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the surface.
The AUSS can be launched from a ship and from the shore and can last two weeks out at sea, if it occasionally rests at the bottom of the sea to save energy. It has been designed to integrate a wide variety of payloads according to mission needs.
Thales developed the AUSS in response to an identified gap in the underwater and surface vehicle market, but is now in discussion with the French Navy for its acquisition and further development. This would include the addition of a data link to allow the instant transfer of imagery, which are presently retrieved once the AUSS comes back to the shore or to a ship. Thales has also discussed the AUSS with other customers, however cannot disclose their identity for reasons of confidentiality.