EP2285663B1 - System for automatically launching and retrieving an underwater drone - Google Patents

System for automatically launching and retrieving an underwater drone Download PDF

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Publication number
EP2285663B1
EP2285663B1 EP09757557A EP09757557A EP2285663B1 EP 2285663 B1 EP2285663 B1 EP 2285663B1 EP 09757557 A EP09757557 A EP 09757557A EP 09757557 A EP09757557 A EP 09757557A EP 2285663 B1 EP2285663 B1 EP 2285663B1
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EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
vehicle
means
pod
handling
frame
Prior art date
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Active
Application number
EP09757557A
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German (de)
French (fr)
Other versions
EP2285663A1 (en
Inventor
Jean-Philippe Goudeau
Hervé LE GRAS
Rémi RUVIO
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Thales SA
Original Assignee
Thales SA
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to FR0803058A priority Critical patent/FR2931792B1/en
Application filed by Thales SA filed Critical Thales SA
Priority to PCT/EP2009/056821 priority patent/WO2009147176A1/en
Publication of EP2285663A1 publication Critical patent/EP2285663A1/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of EP2285663B1 publication Critical patent/EP2285663B1/en
Active legal-status Critical Current
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B27/00Arrangement of ship-based loading or unloading equipment for cargo or passengers
    • B63B27/36Arrangement of ship-based loading or unloading equipment for floating cargo
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63GOFFENSIVE OR DEFENSIVE ARRANGEMENTS ON VESSELS; MINE-LAYING; MINE-SWEEPING; SUBMARINES; AIRCRAFT CARRIERS
    • B63G8/00Underwater vessels, e.g. submarines; Equipment specially adapted therefor
    • B63G8/001Underwater vessels adapted for special purposes, e.g. unmanned underwater vessels; Equipment specially adapted therefor, e.g. docking stations
    • B63G2008/002Underwater vessels adapted for special purposes, e.g. unmanned underwater vessels; Equipment specially adapted therefor, e.g. docking stations unmanned
    • B63G2008/005Underwater vessels adapted for special purposes, e.g. unmanned underwater vessels; Equipment specially adapted therefor, e.g. docking stations unmanned remotely controlled
    • B63G2008/007Underwater vessels adapted for special purposes, e.g. unmanned underwater vessels; Equipment specially adapted therefor, e.g. docking stations unmanned remotely controlled by means of a physical link to a base, e.g. wire, cable or umbilical

Description

  • The present invention relates to the general field of handling, loading and unloading objects from a transport platform. It relates more particularly to a handling nacelle for the launching and recovery of a submarine vehicle according to the preamble of claim 1, a method for launching a submarine vehicle according to the preamble of claim 8 and a method for recovering a submarine vehicle according to the preamble of claim 9.
  • Such a pod is known from the document DE 41 40 201 which is considered the closest prior art.
  • The handling of an autonomous underwater vehicle, by a transport platform, a ship for example, usually requires the intervention of human operators. A crane-type lifting tool is generally available on board for various lifting operations. This lifting tool simply makes it possible to move the underwater vehicle on the platform, to deposit it on the surface of the water and to bring it back from the surface.
  • When launching, the attachment of the vehicle to the crane and its stall are then performed manually by operators handling. A team positioned on the deck of the platform hooks the vehicle to the cable of the crane and a team positioned aboard a light craft, such as a watercraft, unhooks the vehicle while it floats. on the surface.
  • Conversely during the recovery of the vehicle, a team positioned aboard a light craft proceeds to the attachment of the vehicle from the surface, while a team positioned on the deck of the platform performs the stall of the vehicle.
  • This type of handling, in addition to the fact that it mobilizes a large number of operators, also has the disadvantage that hooking and unhooking operations must be performed while the vehicle is on the surface and therefore undergoes the movement of waves. As a result, the launching and recovery of a vehicle in heavy weather is tricky. First of all, it requires that operators perform hooking and stall operations in heavy weather, from a light boat that is not suited to this type of weather. Then, it requires that the underwater vehicle is positioned on the surface near the platform while the movement of the waves makes the maintenance of a fixed position impossible.
  • As a result, in heavy weather, the launching and recovery of the submarine vehicle becomes perilous both at the human level by the danger it poses to the operators in charge of the handling, and the material plane by the risk. collision damage it causes to both the transport platform and the light craft and the submarine vehicle. Also, the implementation of the underwater vehicle in all weather is generally carried out from a specialized platform, equipped with specific means closely adapted to the vehicle in question, allowing the attachment and automatic unhitching of the vehicle.
  • An object of the invention is to propose a solution for implementing an underwater vehicle from a transport platform without requiring the intervention of handlers to proceed, from a light craft, the attachment of the vehicle the lifting means available to the platform and then to its stall. Another object of the invention is to provide a solution for operating these operations by limiting the risk of collision between the platform and the underwater vehicle when the latter is close to the platform.
  • For this purpose the invention relates to a handling nacelle for the launching and recovery of an underwater vehicle, comprising a frame forming a dorsal ridge and providing an interface between lifting means and the vehicle submarine. According to the invention, the chassis comprises:
    • means for adjusting the buoyancy of the nacelle and positioning it at the defined depth so as to prevent the nacelle from being influenced by the movements of the surface;
    • means for enabling automatic positioning of the vehicle within the limited space of the nacelle;
    • means for gripping the vehicle after alignment of the chassis on the vehicle;
    the automatic positioning means of the vehicle in the nacelle are configured to perform the automatic alignment of the dorsal edge formed by the frame on the axis of the vehicle, the alignment being jointly ensured by the maintenance movement of the vehicle after insertion of its front end in said automatic positioning means and the inertia of the nacelle.
  • According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the means for adjusting the overall buoyancy comprise ballast floats arranged along the chassis.
  • According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, combinable with the previous embodiment, the means for ensuring the alignment of the frame on the underwater vehicle comprise a generally conical tip arranged at one end of the chassis, nozzle being sized and configured to receive the front end of the vehicle.
  • According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, combinable with the previous embodiments, the means for gripping the vehicle comprise two articulated arms arranged on the frame and configured to encircle the side walls of the vehicle.
  • The subject of the invention is also a system for remote handling of an underwater vehicle, which comprises lifting means associated with a handling nacelle according to the invention, the gripping device being connected to the lifting means by a cable electrotractor wound on a winch.
  • According to a preferred embodiment, the handling system according to the invention further comprises control and control means to guarantee the alignment of the chassis on the vehicle and actuate the various means of the nacelle, the control signals and control being transmitted by the electrotractor cable.
  • According to another preferred embodiment of the handling system according to the invention, combinable with the previous embodiment, the control and control means comprise a camera mounted on the handling nacelle configured to view the underwater vehicle during approaching the nacelle handling and during chassis alignment operations on the vehicle.
  • The invention also relates to a method for launching an underwater vehicle by means of the handling system according to the invention, wherein the following operations are carried out successively:
    • positioning of the handling platform containing the vehicle above the body of water;
    • descent of the handling nacelle;
    • control of the immersion of the handling nacelle at the desired depth;
    • unstacking of the vehicle: opening of the gripping means;
    • control of the distance of the vehicle;
    • passage of the vehicle in autonomous operation mode.
  • Finally, the subject of the invention is a method for recovering an underwater vehicle by means of the handling system according to the invention, according to which the following operations are carried out successively:
    • passage of the vehicle in remote operating mode;
    • driving the vehicle inbound;
    • insertion of the vehicle into the alignment means of the nacelle handling;
    • holding the vehicle in motion to align the chassis with the vehicle;
    • stopping the vehicle and closing the gripping means;
    • raising of the vehicle in the handling car;
    • positioning of the handling nacelle containing the vehicle on the storage area.
  • The device according to the invention advantageously allows a transport platform, a scientific vessel for example, to carry an underwater vehicle, a relatively small automatic vehicle, for example, and to automatically implement such a vehicle. even in rough seas, without the need for manual operations and without risking a collision between the platform and the vehicle. This implementation can also advantageously be performed with simple lifting means.
  • The features and advantages of the invention will be better appreciated thanks to the description which follows, description which sets forth the invention through a particular embodiment taken as a non-limiting example and which is based on the appended figures, figures which represent:
    • the figure 1 , a schematic representation of the device gripping according to the invention,
    • the figures 2 , 4 and 6 , side views illustrating the operating principle of the gripping device according to the invention,
    • the figures 3 , 5 and 7 , top views illustrating the operating principle of the gripping device according to the invention,
    • the Figures 8 to 10 , relative illustrations variant embodiment incorporating video means for guiding the vehicle to the nacelle and control its positioning.
  • The following description presents the characteristics of the invention through a particular application taken as a nonlimiting example of implementation. The application described here relates to the realization of means of handling, launching and recovery, teleoperated, adapted to an automatic underwater vehicle, drone type.
  • The figure 1 presents a general view of the handling nacelle 10 according to the invention for housing the underwater vehicle during the launching and recovery maneuvers. It mainly comprises a central frame 11 forming a dorsal edge and a fastening zone 17 at which the nacelle is secured to a traction cable 18 for lifting the nacelle 10.
  • Preferably, the lashing of the cable 18 to the nacelle 10 is carried out, as illustrated by the figure 1 via an articulated attachment. In this way, when it is suspended at the end of the cable, the nacelle 10 can move freely without inflicting excessive torsion on the traction cable 18.
  • The central frame 11 supports gripping means 14 distributed along it and configured to perform the capture and maintenance of the underwater vehicle. Preferably, these means 14 comprise articulated arms which come to order encircle the wall of the vehicle following the profile of this wall. For this purpose the gripping means may for example consist as illustrated in the figure in a plurality of rigid arm sets in arches of circles 15, 16, hinged at the frame, arranged in opposition to one with respect to the other and custom to lower to come to seize the vehicle or get up to release it. Alternatively, the arms constituting each set may consist of a plurality of articulated segments, the latter configuration allowing for example the seizure of a vehicle whose wall does not have a regular profile.
  • From an operational point of view, the gripping means are actuated as soon as the vehicle the underwater vehicle has penetrated into the space 101 limited by the nacelle, it has positioned itself inside this space so as to to be in contact with the frame 11 and to be oriented so that its main axis is parallel to the axis 19 of the frame.
  • The frame 11 also supports means 13 to allow automatic positioning of the vehicle within the space 101 limited by the nacelle, in particular its alignment with respect to the axis 19 of the frame. For this purpose these means consist of a mechanical structure attached to the front of the chassis, defining a space 131 may accommodate the front end of the vehicle. According to the invention, the structure 13 has a flared opening allowing the front end of the vehicle to be housed in the housing space 131 even if the vehicle is not rigorously aligned with the axis 19 of the chassis when it enters the space 101 limited by the platform 10. It is arranged so that when the front end of the vehicle is fully engaged in the housing space 131, the frame 11 is positioned in contact with the wall of the housing. vehicle or at least a very small distance from it.
  • Preferably, the means 13 to allow automatic positioning of the vehicle inside the nacelle 10 are associated with complementary means to ensure that the correct positioning of the vehicle in the nacelle is achieved. These control means, not shown in the figure, can take various forms, the form of devices with electrical contacts or optical devices for example.
  • According to the invention, the chassis 11 still supports means 12 which ensures the nacelle 10 a variable buoyancy in the water. These means consist for example as shown in the figure in floats associated with ballasts configured and arranged on the structure so as to give it a horizontal position when it is immersed. So, by doing to vary the buoyancy of the floats it is possible to maintain the nacelle at a given depth and in a horizontal position. As a result, the gripping of the underwater vehicle can advantageously be performed without the need for it to surface. Therefore, the depth at which the gripping of the submarine is carried out can advantageously be chosen so that this operation takes place in calm waters.
  • The Figures 2 to 7 present views illustrating at different times the operating principle of the handling platform 10 according to the invention during the recovery of a submarine vehicle 20 by a handling system comprising such a nacelle.
  • The Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the phase of the operation during which both the chassis and the vehicle are brought into contact and the chassis is aligned with the vehicle.
  • During this phase, the vehicle 21 is in motion. It inserts its front end into the positioning means and causes in its movement symbolized by the arrows 21 and 31 the nacelle 10 whose gripping means 14 are in the raised position. Under the action of the movement printed by the vehicle and the inertia of the nacelle it takes a rotational movement in the horizontal plane and the vertical plane, a movement that has the effect of aligning the axis 19 of the frame 11 on the axis 33 of the vehicle and to bring the frame 11 of the vehicle wall. The arrows 22 and 32 symbolize these two movements printed by the training of the nacelle 10 by the vehicle 20. Consequently, at the end of this phase, the underwater vehicle 20 and the nacelle 10 are correctly positioned one relative to each other so that the gripping operation itself can begin. The vehicle 20 then exerts more propulsion.
  • The Figures 4 and 5 illustrate the beginning of the actual grasping operation. During this phase the vehicle and the nacelle are correctly positioned relative to each other: the axes 19 and 33 are parallel and the frame 11 is in contact with the wall of the vehicle 20. The gripping means 14 are then actuated and the arms 15 and 16 rotate according to a movement symbolized by the arrows 41 to come into contact with the vehicle wall on each side of this wall.
  • The gripping operation itself continues until the arms 15 and 16 have completely rotated so that they finally constitute a belt that encircles vehicle 20 and makes it integral with the nacelle 10 in its movements. This phase of the operation is illustrated by the Figures 6 and 7 .
  • At this stage, the vehicle-nacelle assembly can be reassembled on board the transport platform using lifting means not shown here, for example a crane, by winding the cable 19 on a winch located on board the platform.
  • According to the invention, the nacelle 10 thus constitutes an element of a complete handling system including the nacelle 10, the towing cable 19, the lifting means and control and control means. These means have the function of enabling the various means provided by the nacelle 10 to be implemented. The control and control means make it possible, in particular, for an operator on board to manage the means 12 ensuring the variable buoyancy of the nacelle. manage the gripping means 14 and manage the control of the winch which actuates the unwinding and winding of the towing cable 19, actions that cause the descent and the ascent of the nacelle 10. In the case where the handling system is in particular intended for the launching and recovery of an automatic vehicle of the drone type, these control and control means may be preferably configured to allow the operator to ensure the correct positioning of the nacelle 10 and of the underwater vehicle 20 in particular before operating the gripping means 14 during the recovery operation of the vehicle. For this purpose the nacelle 10 is equipped with complementary means configured to transmit to the control and control means information relating to the positioning of the vehicle in the nacelle. These additional means may consist of video means, a camera attached to the rear of the frame 11 for example. They also make it possible to facilitate the operations of bringing the vehicle 20 closer to the nacelle 10, which can be brought about autonomously by the vehicle 20. or conducted from the transport platform by an operator, the vehicle being then remotely controlled from the platform for the nacelle association phase.
  • The Figures 8 to 10 illustrate how a handling system such as that described above and including a video camera on the platform 10 can be implemented to carry out the recovery and recovery of an automatic submarine vehicle. The figures show views of the underwater vehicle to be recovered for moments corresponding to different phases of the operation. These views obtained from a video camera positioned on the rear end of the frame 11 of the nacelle 10 are used by the operator to manage the necessary maneuvers. The procedure to launch the vehicle using the same handling system is also easily deduced from the way to proceed to recover it.
  • In such a context, the vehicle 20 comes for example, to position itself at the end of the mission in the vicinity of the pod 10 which awaits it at a given depth, chosen according to the calm nature of the waters at this depth, then goes into a mode of remote controlled operation. The operator aboard the platform obtains an image similar to that of the figure 8 .
  • The operator then acts on the navigation and propulsion controls of the vehicle so as to guide it to the nacelle and to engage its front end in the positioning means 13. The operator on board the platform obtains a similar image to that of the figure 9 .
  • It maintains the propulsion of the vehicle so that the end of the vehicle is fully housed in the positioning means 13 and the nacelle 10, driven in the movement of the vehicle is oriented so that the frame 11 is aligned with the axis of the vehicle. It simultaneously controls the progress of the maneuvers performed and the result obtained on a video monitor connected to the video camera positioned at the rear of the chassis.
  • Then, as soon as the vehicle 20 and the chassis 11 of the nacelle 10 are aligned and in contact with each other, in a situation corresponding to the image of the figure 10 , on which the vehicle appears centered, the operator interrupts the propulsion system of the vehicle and actuates the gripping means 14, so as to lock the vehicle in Platform. The nacelle 10 is then reassembled on board the transport platform by controlling the winding of the traction cable 18 and positioned on its storage area by the lifting means.
  • The exchanges of information and commands between the nacelle 10 and the control and control means are made, conventionally, via the cable 18 which connects the nacelle to the lifting means. For this purpose this cable called "electrotractor cable" may comprise a plurality of strands intended to fulfill the traction function and one or more strands forming electrical conductors for driving the signals exchanged by the nacelle and the control means and control. Alternatively, it may comprise strands consisting of optical fibers.
  • The exchanges of commands and information between the vehicle and the command and control means can be made by any appropriate means of communication. In a particular embodiment of the handling system, the communication means may for example be installed on the nacelle.
  • The realization and implementation of a handling system such as that described above, is made advantageously simple by the use of the nacelle 10 according to the invention, which takes into account alone the greater part of the specificities of the vehicle 20 to launch and recover. In this way, the nacelle 10 constituting a real interface adaptation, it is not particularly useful to set up lifting means and specific traction. Incidentally, the procedures for launching and recovering a submarine vehicle are also simplified. They are also teleoperable to a large extent.
  • As a result, the method for launching an underwater vehicle by means of the handling system according to the invention, successively implements the following operations:
    • positioning of the nacelle 10 containing the vehicle above the body of water;
    • descent of empty basket 10;
    • control of the immersion of the nacelle at the desired depth: unwinding of the electrotractor cable 18;
    • undocking of the vehicle 20: opening of the gripping means 14;
    • remote control of the distance of the vehicle 20;
    • passage of the vehicle 20 in autonomous operation mode.
  • Similarly, the method for recovering an underwater vehicle by means of the handling system according to the invention successively implements the following operations:
    • passage of the vehicle 20 in remote operating mode;
    • driving the vehicle inbound;
    • insertion of the vehicle in the means 13 of alignment of the nacelle;
    • maintaining the moving vehicle to align the frame 11 on the vehicle 20;
    • stopping the vehicle and closing the gripping means 14: securing;
    • ascent of the nacelle 10 containing the vehicle 20;
    • positioning of the nacelle 10 enclosing the vehicle 20 on the storage area.
  • The implementation of such methods advantageously does not involve the intervention of operators to perform hooking and stalling operations in sometimes perilous conditions.

Claims (9)

  1. Handling pod (10) for launching and recovering an underwater vehicle (20), comprising a frame (11) which forms a dorsal fin and which produces an interface between lifting means and the underwater vehicle (20), characterised in that the frame (11) comprises:
    - means (12) for adjusting the floating ability of the pod and positioning it at the defined depth in order to prevent the pod from being subjected to the influence of movements of the surface;
    - means (13) for allowing automatic positioning of the vehicle inside the space (101) delimited by the pod,
    - means (14) for ensuring the gripping of the vehicle after the frame (11) has been aligned with the vehicle (20);
    the means (13) for automatically positioning the vehicle in the pod (10) are configured to carry out the automatic alignment of the dorsal fin formed by the frame (11) with the axis of the vehicle, the alignment being jointly ensured by the vehicle being kept in the moving state after its front end has been inserted into the automatic positioning means (13) and by the inertia of the pod.
  2. Handling pod (10) according to claim 1, characterised in that the means (12) for adjusting the floating ability of the assembly comprise ballast floaters which are arranged along the frame (11).
  3. Handling pod (10) according to either claim 1 or claim 2, characterised in that the means (13) for ensuring the alignment of the frame (11) with the underwater vehicle (20) comprise an end-piece which is generally conical and which is arranged at one end of the frame (11), the end-piece being sized and configured to receive the front end of the vehicle.
  4. Handling pod according to any one of claims 1 to 3, characterised in that the means (14) for ensuring the gripping of the vehicle (20) comprise two articulated arms (15, 16) which are arranged on the frame and which are configured so as to surround the lateral walls of the vehicle (20).
  5. Remotely operable handling system for an underwater vehicle, characterised in that it comprises lifting means which are associated with a handling pod (10) according to any one of claims 1 to 4, the gripping device being connected to the lifting means via an electro-traction cable (19) which is wound on a winch.
  6. Handling system according to claim 5, characterised in that it further comprises command and control means in order to ensure the alignment of the frame (11) with the vehicle (20) and to actuate the various means (12, 14) of the handling pod (10), the command and control signals being transmitted by the electro-traction cable (19).
  7. Handling system according to claim 6, characterised in that the command and control means comprise a camera which is mounted on the handling pod (10) and which is configured to display the underwater vehicle (20) when it approaches the handling pod (10) and during operations for aligning the frame (11) with the vehicle (20).
  8. Method for launching an underwater vehicle (20) using the handling system according to any one of claims 5 to 7, characterised in that the following operations are successively carried out:
    - positioning the handling pod (10) which contains the vehicle (20) above the water level;
    - lowering the handling pod (10);
    - commanding the immersion (14) of the handling pod to the desired depth;
    - releasing the vehicle: opening the gripping means (14);
    - controlling the removal of the vehicle;
    - moving the vehicle into the independent operating mode.
  9. Method for recovering an underwater vehicle using the handling system according to any one of claims 5 to 7, characterised in that the following operations are successively carried out:
    - moving the vehicle into the remote controlled operating mode;
    - controlling the vehicle during approach,
    - inserting the vehicle into the alignment means (13) of the handling pod (10);
    - keeping the vehicle in a moving state in order to align the frame (11) with the vehicle (20);
    - stopping the vehicle (20) and closing the gripping means (13);
    - raising the vehicle (20) in the handling pod (10),
    - positioning the handling pod (10) which surrounds the vehicle (20) on the storage area.
EP09757557A 2008-06-03 2009-06-03 System for automatically launching and retrieving an underwater drone Active EP2285663B1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
FR0803058A FR2931792B1 (en) 2008-06-03 2008-06-03 System for automatically setting up and recovering a submarine drone
PCT/EP2009/056821 WO2009147176A1 (en) 2008-06-03 2009-06-03 System for automatically launching and retrieving an underwater drone

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
EP2285663A1 EP2285663A1 (en) 2011-02-23
EP2285663B1 true EP2285663B1 (en) 2013-01-23

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US (1) US8590476B2 (en)
EP (1) EP2285663B1 (en)
FR (1) FR2931792B1 (en)
WO (1) WO2009147176A1 (en)

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FR2969573B1 (en) * 2010-12-23 2013-02-08 Eca Device for bringing to the water and recovering a submersible or surface machine.
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FR3002916B1 (en) * 2013-03-05 2015-03-06 Thales Sa System and method for recovering an autonomous submarine
US20140263851A1 (en) * 2013-03-14 2014-09-18 Liquid Robotics, Inc. Water Vehicles
FR3024973B1 (en) * 2014-08-19 2016-09-30 Dcns Device for receiving a underwater and an associated naval vehicle
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JP2018061159A (en) * 2016-10-06 2018-04-12 富士ゼロックス株式会社 Underwater moving body
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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
EP2285663A1 (en) 2011-02-23
US8590476B2 (en) 2013-11-26
WO2009147176A1 (en) 2009-12-10
FR2931792A1 (en) 2009-12-04
US20110192338A1 (en) 2011-08-11
FR2931792B1 (en) 2010-11-12

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