Sesimbra and Peniche were this year venues for the 9th edition of the Recognized Environmental Picture Atlantic Exercise (REP18), which has brought together dozens of autonomous underwater, surface and air vehicles for coastal operations from 10 to 21 September.
REP is one of the major European experimentation exercises for Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS), jointly organized by the Portuguese Navy, the Laboratório de Sistemas e Tecnologia Subaquática (LSTS) of the University of Porto and the NATO Science and technology Organization (STO) - Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) based in La Spezia (Italy). Ever since its first edition in 2010, REP takes place on an annual basis and it is targeted at advancing the state of art in networked vehicle systems through large-scale experimentation where the Academia, the Industry and the Operational Community work together to develop and evaluate operational concepts and to test new technological advances and procedures and tactics for MUS in real-life operational scenarios.
On this year’s edition, the invited participants, contributing with resources and personnel are: Maritime National Authority, Maritime Police, Portuguese Air Force, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (USA), the Applied Research Laboratory of the University of Hawaii (USA), OceanScan - Marine Systems and Technologies Lda (Portugal), NATO Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence (NMW COE), Polish Navy, Oceanserver, INESC-TEC - Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science, Tekever and Uavision. In addition, there are observers from the Turkish Navy, the Coast Guard of Canada and Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre (Narcotics) MAOC (N).
During the 2-week exercise, MUS have been tested in order to assess operational capabilities in heterogeneous multi-vehicle networks. The operations included several Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with varied sensors and acoustic payloads, which have been deployed from Portuguese Navy ships. The interoperability in the command and control of various types of systems was one of the main objectives. That includes, among other things, the support of the LSTS software toolchain http://www.lsts.pt/toolchain.
Another focal point of the experimentation is the work in underwater communications. CMRE is testing new, adaptive techniques for increased efficiency and security of underwater acoustic networks. Additionally, CMRE is conducting operational experimentation with JANUS – the first standard for underwater communications. JANUS is being used to provide real-time data products to a submarine at depth and speed.
The demonstration tests have been carried out according to specific mission plans, serving different operational scenarios, and the expected outcomes concern the technological and scientific fields, but also the Security and Defence sector.