Unmanned Navy anti-sub vehicle moves closer to reality

Unmanned Navy anti-sub vehicle moves closer to reality

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Dubbed the “Sea Hunter,” the technology demonstration vessel is a highly autonomous unmanned ship that is optimized to robustly track quiet diesel electric submarines. The vehicle could revolutionize U.S. maritime operations, says the agency, and represents the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time.

“ACTUV’s move from DARPA to ONR marks a significant milestone in developing large-scale USV technology and autonomy capabilities,” says Alexander Walan, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “Our collaboration with ONR has brought closer to reality a future fleet in which both manned warships and capable large unmanned vessels complement each other to accomplish diverse, evolving missions.”

The ONR, for its part, says that it is already working on autonomous control, which is seen as a “challenging area” that is key to maturing the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) and delivering it to the fleet.

“ACTUV represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate,” says Fred Kennedy, DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office director. “The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”

DARPA and ONR first began collaborating on the project in 2014. At-sea testing of Sea Hunter’s sensing and autonomy suites began in October 2016, and by September 2017 the vessel had passed three progressively challenging tests to integrate the suites and use them to comply with International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) in operationally realistic scenarios.

ONR plans additional at-sea tests to further develop ACTUV/MDUSV technologies, including automating payload and sensor data processing, rapidly developing new mission-specific autonomous behaviors, and exploring autonomous coordination among multiple USVs. Pending test results, MDUSV could transition to U.S. Navy operations by 2018 the agencies say.

DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) Program

Related articles:
Powering autonomous marine applications
Robot ship to navigate Pacific in 2019
Autonomous ship navigation autopilot in development
‘Living sensors’ hold promise for ocean surveillance, says DARPA

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles