A new project is in development to build a subsea drone for monitoring and controlling subsea cables.

The Martoc project is comprised of 4 companies and institutes: RTSys (also the project leader), Orange Marine, Mappem Geophysics, and ENSTA Bretagne.

Martoc project
– ENSTA Bretagne on LinkedIn

The autonomous drone, dubbed Comet-3000, will be able to detect problems at depths of 3000m.

The drone is equipped with a set of complementary sensors; both passive (flux-gate magnetometer, camera) and active (electromagnetic sensor, frontal sonar).

The Martoc Project said its drone will be deployed from a surfaced vessel as part of mapping missions and for threat monitoring. The project also includes the development of a launch and recovery system that will be installed on cable-type vessels to launch and recover the drone.

However, the consortium did note that there are challenges to its project, for example, the great depths of the subsea cables make it difficult to identify them and collect optimal data.

The Martoc Project was first launched in February 2024 by the four partners of the project. RTSys, an underwater robotics and acoustics technology developer, is based in Caudan in Brittany, France. The company also has a base in Singapore.

Orange subsidiary Orange Marine specializes in submarine cable work. The company said it owns more than 15 percent of the world’s cable ships and has laid 264,000km of submarine fiber optic cables.

Mappem Geophysics is a specialist in marine electromagnetism, having developed instruments, methods, site studies, and research equipment.

ENSTA Bretagne is an engineering school and research center based in Brest, France. Its training and research work targets the maritime, defense, transport, energy, aerospace, and digital sectors.

Earlier this year, Italian network operator Terna and US firm Terradepth launched a project to survey seabeds for subsea cable deployment using a submarine drone.