Successful merging of commercial and defence technology in ROV/AUV design

Sucessfully merging commercial and defence technology in ROV/AUV design

Saab is a company with its roots in both the defence and commercial ROV sides. The Swedish side has mainly been working on military vehicles the last decades while the British Seaeye side has been very successful in the commercial ROV market. Merging the two makes a successful combination.

The  military  vehicles  have  their  advantages  in  low  acoustic  and  magnetic  noise,  ruggedness, streamlined shape and special technology developed for military use. The disadvantage is that the price often is relatively high. The commercial vehicles have their advantages in long series resulting in lower cost, good spares supply, worldwide support and faster technology development.  The commercial vehicles are also not so specialized but allow the customer to easily change configuration.

During recent years Saab has designed several systems where components from the two sides have been mixed to get vehicles with new capabilities:

- One example is the SUBROV which is a military vehicle mainly built of commercial components, says Sören Ohlsson, project manager.  It is designed to be launched from a torpedo tube on a submarine and it is used for inspection, surveillance and recovery.

Another example is the Sabertooth, a commercial hybrid AUV/ROV used for autonomous inspection, maintenance and repair of subsea installations, tunnel inspection and offshore survey work. The battery system and AUV capabilities comes from the military side while many components originates from the commercial side.  

- We are also working on a concept under evaluation, the Sabertooth Survey version, says Sören Ohlsson. It is a Sabertooth with four high power thrusters at the aft taken from the military Double Eagle MkIII vehicle. This gives a good priced survey vehicle with high speed.  The  low  acoustic  and  magnetic  signature  of  the  thruster  also  gives  the advantage of reduced interference with payload sensors.

There is a great interest for the various vehicles - for our military products as well as for our civil vehicles for the offshore market, and Saab is expecting a lot of attention during the upcoming UDT exhibition and conference (

Agneta Kammeby is Head of Dynamics Business Unit Underwater Systems:

- Overall, the combination of defence and commercial vehicles, and the long experience of the underwater sector have put us in a position as world leader in the sector, and Underwater Systems is a growing business with several new products in the portfolio.