Steering clear of mines

QinetiQ has unveiled the Diver Reconnaissance System, a new underwater navigation and search system that will increase the effectiveness of mine clearance divers.

A new underwater navigation and search system that will increase the effectiveness of mine clearance divers has been unveiled at UDT 2004 in Nice.

The Diver Reconnaissance System (DRS) has been developed by QinetiQ, Europe’s largest science and technology company, and is reportedly set to play a significant role in mines counter measures (MCM) operations, particularly those conducted in shallow littoral waters.

Incorporating a high frequency, forward looking sonar search capability with navigation technologies, a data recording facility and user-friendly display, the DRS is said to address a number of issues that currently hamper the effectiveness of divers in MCM operations. Traditional diver rope search techniques are man intensive, time consuming and difficult to conduct, particularly in tide.

Tim Sharman, QinetiQ’s DRS Programme Manager, said: “We are excited by the potential of the DRS. Conducting mine clearance operations in littoral waters provides a range of tough challenges and our system has been designed specifically for this difficult environment.

“The DRS also has scope to bring benefit to a wide range of civil and commercial diving environments, including police, oil and gas, salvage and archaeological.”

In recent years the emphasis in the development of MCM systems has changed to reflect the littoral water mine threat, in particular the threat to an amphibious landing or entry to a port.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) are playing an increasing role in these types of operation. However, there are situations where a specialist diver is still the preferred option and QinetiQ’s DRS provides the MCM commander with increased flexibility to pursue that option.

The DRS is based on a handheld swimboard concept and incorporates a fully functioning microprocessor that can receive various sensor data and log and display mission information. The diver has full control over the system functions by means of underwater mouse controls fitted into the handles.

QinetiQ says it has drawn on expertise from its unique Centre for Human Sciences to develop a visual display that is easy to interpret by the diver. This design is key to enabling the diver to effectively undertake both underwater navigation and search tasks.

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