Drones of the deep: ONR tests underwater robots
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Oct 07, 2015
With the help of robotic arms, Navy technicians were able to neutralize underwater mines during a recent demonstration that highlighted the growing role for unmanned systems -- especially in mine countermeasures (MCM) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).
“MCM and EOD represent some of the dull, dirty and truly dangerous jobs performed every day by our sailors and marines,” said Jason Stack, program officer and lead for Office of Naval Research's Mine Warfare program, which sponsored the demonstration. “These emerging technologies will assist these men and women by making their jobs faster and safer.”
A total of 40 unmanned, autonomous or remotely operated systems were demonstrated and tested over the two-week period at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. During that time:
- Unmanned underwater vehicles worked together with an unmanned on the surface to search the ocean and seafloor for mines.
- 3D printed robotic arms demonstrated inspecting and neutralizing underwater explosives attached to ship hulls.
- Advanced sensors capable of finding mines buried under the ocean sediment were demonstrated from a variety of platforms—including one capable of movement in any direction using biologically inspired controls and fins.
The technology demos not only advance the technology that will protect the future force, but also hint at the importance of collaboration when it comes to science and technology. Partners from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Germany were on hand and helped guide many of the efforts, ONR said.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.