Exail, the company formed in 2022 from a team-up between ECA Group and iXblue, has unveiled its new ROV, the R7, which has been developed for police, naval, customs agency and coast guard support. The unit is reportedly capable of tasks ranging from search and rescue, port/harbour surveillance and diver assistance to UXO identification and pollution management.
The compact bot measures 780mm in length, 551mm in width and 424mm in height, and weighs 32kg – making it “easy to transport and deploy by a team of just two people”, comments Philippe Roumegue, Exail sales director. The ROV can be deployed directly from land or from a small craft. Each R7 comes with an electric powerpack, a 327m-long umbilical cable and a control unit – the latter featuring a mobile console that displays data captured by the R7 and its sensors.
The ROV incorporates four vectored horizontal thrusters and three vertical thrusters for optimal manoeuvrability in three axes, even when up against strong currents, Exail says. The unit has been designed to operate at depths in excess of 300m, and with a forward speed of 3knots in 0knots current.
The R7 also comes equipped with full HD cameras with 4x zoom, enabling the ROV to capture high-quality imagery in low-light (or high-turbidity) conditions, which it then streams to shore in real time. The unit’s sensors are supported by two LED projectors, each rated 5,000lumens, for the same purpose. Exail adds: “In underwater environments with low visibility, sonar remains the reference sensor. The R7 can be equipped with imaging sonars, navigation sonars, and side-scan sonars.” The drone can also be fitted with a multifunctional arm for underwater object manipulation, plus a doppler velocity log for enhanced precision of movement.
All ROV and sensor data is displayed on a pair of 15” touch screens with anti-glare properties, and the vehicle itself is controlled via a multifunction joystick. Roumegue claims that an operator can achieve “perfect efficiency” of R7 control after two days of training, adding: “Tests have shown that the R7 is incredibly stable on all axes: it can manoeuvre through narrow openings to enter a wreck, or orient itself nose-up to inspect a hull.” The motors are coupled to an attitude and heading reference system for accurate pitch and roll control, and the ROV control system features self-diagnostic functionality.