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Hexagon partners with Airbus for near real-time airborne bathymetric LiDAR surveillance system

The Leica Chiroptera 4X LiDAR sensor’s new in-flight configuration directly interfaces Airbus’ tactical mission system to add significant capabilities for the maritime surveillance industry.

Remco Takken December 1, 2021
Hexagon announces partnership with Airbus for near real-time airborne bathymetric LiDAR surveillance system

The partnership with Airbus encompasses the integration of two Leica Chiroptera 4X bathymetric LiDAR sensors. These are for maritime surveillance into the C295 MSA, Airbus’ Maritime Surveillance Aircraft. Hexagon’s new technology enables detection of underwater objects in near real-time. This is a significant innovation in the airborne bathymetry industry. The solution was developed to meet Airbus’ requirements. For instance, the object detection feature enables real-time LiDAR data visualisation and analysis during the flight. Being able to locate the precise position of the object allows operators to preview and analyse information captured below water immediately. This is a process which previously could take up to several days.

Faster bathymetric object detection

“We are delighted to announce the innovative application of the Chiroptera 4X sensor. This now identifies small, submerged objects close to real-time. It’ll make bathymetric object detection faster than ever before,” says Anders Ekelund, VP for Bathymetric LiDAR Sensors at Hexagon. “With this latest innovation, we are expanding our current system. We are adding significant capabilities for the maritime surveillance industry, and introducing new applications for airborne bathymetry.” Alejandro Cabezas is Mission System Engineer at Airbus. He says: “We are excited to install the Chiroptera 4X bathymetric LiDAR sensor with the new object detection technology into our C295 MSA. The partnership with Hexagon enables us to provide a new, innovative and integrated LiDAR solution to the Irish Air Corps. With the combined bathymetric and topographic LiDAR, we see enormous potential in the Chiroptera 4X system to be an efficient application for our customers.”

Irish Air Corps

Implementation takes place in two C295 MSA, as purchased by the Irish Air Corps (IAC). Once they have equipped both C295 MSA with the Chiroptera 4X LiDAR sensor and with the near real-time detection application, the IAC will be ready to utilize it. The aircraft are due for delivery to Ireland in Q2 2023.

Overall better solution

“When we acquired the C295 MSA, we explored various sensors that we could add to our fleet. This includes bathymetric and topographic LiDAR. Airbus introduced us to the Chiroptera 4X which now meets all our requirements,” says Stephen Connolly, Captain of the Irish Air Corps. “The combined bathymetric and topographic LiDAR sensor will provide us with more details than ever before. Detecting objects close to real-time and having a clear picture of underwater activities will allow us to report directly to the Mission Support Centre on the ground and act faster to perform our duties more efficiently. The Chiroptera 4X will provide an overall better solution for the coastal maritime domain.”

leica-geosystems.com/chiroptera