Tuna Robot! Navy Tests UUVPosted: July 6, 2014
The Future of Underwater Surveillance?
For Defense Tech, Kris Osborn reports: The Navy is testing a stealthy, 4 foot-long fish-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle designed to blend in with undersea life and perform combat sensor functions, service officials explained.
The so-called “bio-memetic” undersea vehicle is currently being developed as part of the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell, or CRIC – a special unit set up by CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert in 2012 to explore the feasibility of rapidly turning around commercially available technologies for Naval military use.
“You could have a sub with a fish-like UUV tethered onto a cable, giving real time feedback as opposed to current ones that come back for a download…”
— Capt. Jim Loper, Navy Warfare Development Command
“It mimics a fish. It looks like a fish. We call it robo-tuna, affectionately, but it is a UUV (unmanned undersea vehicle). It does not have a propeller or a jet. It actually swims by flipping its tail around,” said Capt. Jim Loper, concepts and innovation department head, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk.
The robot-fish is highly maneuverable and can accelerate quickly, reaching speeds up to 40 knots, Loper said. Being propelled by its tail instead of a shaft or propeller helps it remain stealthy and energy efficient. The shark-like sensor is engineered to carry a range of payloads from acoustic sensors to underwater cameras, he explained.
“The fact that the front portion of the animal is mainly stationary when swimming is important because when you carrying sensors…”
— Mark Smithers, vice president and chief technology officer at Boston Engineering
Built in Massachusetts by a firm called Boston Engineering, the robot fish could be used for a range of missions including undersea mine detection or prolonged surveillance of ships, ports and submarines.
“We’re imaging this can loiter for days, possibly weeks on a battery that allows it to maintain its position. This is a sensor we can put out there that matches in with the local life so to speak,” Loper added.
The UUV is currently configured with a lithium ion battery and is engineered so that its front end remains stationary in order to maximize sensor performance…(read more)
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- U.S. Navy personnel trained on Sea Glider underwater drone (upi.com)
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