In instances involving underwater operations, establishing the three-dimensional positioning of static or moving undersea objects or ships at sea relative to a precise seabed reference regularly poses a problem. GPS cannot be transmitted below the surface. The traditional method is to position an object by using acoustic innterrogation of a network of beacons and by measuring the responder time delay (Long Base Line system). This requires advance calibration of the geographical reference point of each of the beacons, a potentially lengthy process depending on the level of precision required. This essentially single-user system also has to be recalibrated every time a sensor is replaced.

The CANOPUS project is innovatory in that it aims to manage the positioning of different subsea vehicles by developing intelligent beacons capable of communicating and conducting calculations. By integrating acoustic communication systems and protocols into the beacons, it is possible to control the drift of the network on the one hand and to allow several vehicles to use the system simultaneously on the other. In addition, information other than simply the downlink delay can be transmitted (opportunistic sensors), a feature that is particularly and frequently required during undersea interventions. The capacity and flexibility to communicate between several beacons simplifies and speeds up the calibrating process.

Intelligent beacons are also designed to assume some of the complexity of, for example, vehicle navigation. This is crucial for operations involving small autonomous vehicles with a limited payload, which can be used by sensors other than those for positioning.

The CANOPUS project is aimed at the deep ocean offshore market where communication arrays are becoming an operational imperative. But the project is also seeking to respond to the complex issues of acoustic positioning in the subsea environment of coastal zones.

The project should lead to the effective development of beacons whose performance tests will take place using a compact ROV in coastal waters and an AUV in deep waters.

  • - iXBlue, Brest  [Project Developer]
  • - Florian Madec Composites, Brest
Research centers
  • - Ifremer, La Seyne-sur-Mer
  • - IMT Atlantique Bretagne-Pays de la Loire / Lab-STICC, Brest
  • - IUEM, Brest
- Fonds Unique Interministériel
- Conseil départemental du Finistère
- Conseil régional de Bretagne
- Brest métropole
- Toulon Provence Méditerranée Communauté d'Agglomération
Overall budget
2 653 K€