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48 U nmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) technology, which comprises remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), has reached a stage of maturity where it is now able to support a number of specialist commercial and government applications. However, despite such developments over recent years, UUV systems remain rather limited in regards to their existing range of mission sets and capabilities. In a military capacity, UUVs have long been relied on to support mine countermeasure (MCM) operations in conjunction with ROVs, AUVs and manned and unmanned surface vessels (USVs), as well as a multitude of payloads including towed and integrated sonar arrays. However, the sector continues to consider applications relating to signals intelligence, close target reconnaissance and surveillance missions on and below the surface, not to mention the potential for explosive ordnance disposal and sabotage missions. Meanwhile, in the commercial space, UUV technology continues to support the oil and gas industry with pipeline and cable tracking and inspection operations. Additional operations include port, harbour, tunnel and dam inspections; hull inspections of maritime vessels; search and rescue missions; biological study and sampling; and environmental monitoring to support rigs and other installations. However, these applications rely heavily on the payload capacity of the ROV or AUV as well as the maturity of the integrated sensor, where options can include electro-optical/infrared cameras, LED light arrays, manipulators, sonar technology and laser scanners. Limitations in the capabilities of commercial and military UUV systems are being addressed on a number of fronts, reports Andrew White The tide is turning February/March 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology ECA Group has designed AUVs of different form factors, including the A18, to provide a modular and scalable toolkit for selecting and integrating systems capable of undertaking a wide array of mission sets (Courtesy of ECA Group)