Port Police (Ron Kacmarcik/Shutterstock.com)

Underwater drones ride rising tide of remote management

Just as the use of unmanned aerial systems has expanded from military use to applications for bridge inspections, vaccinating wildlife and law enforcement, the tide for applications for underwater drones is rising.

The submersibles used by the Navy to disable mines and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for fisheries management are becoming smaller, less expensive and more flexible.  This makes them affordable options for state and local governments for inspections of reservoir  and water supply systems as well as underwater infrastructure, environmental assessment, law enforcement and port security.

One  unmanned underwater vehicle made by Aquabotix has been approved for placement on the General Services Administration’s Schedule for availability to federal agencies. The company’s Endura UUV was also added to GSA Advantage, which qualifies the underwater drone for purchase by state and local agencies.

Endura is built with a computer inside, auto controls in the software and lithium battery that offers  four hours of standard run time, with AC power also available for continuous operation. Different models offer depth, temperature and orientation sensors, onboard memory, cameras, LED lighting, a manipulator/grabber arm and payload capabilities.

The GSA approval comes nearly one month after the Navy ordered a single drone from Aquabotix.

Underwater drones have become an area of increasing interest to the Navy as the branch plans to grow spending on undersea systems to $3 billion in future years, the Washington Post reported.

This article was first posted to Washington Technology, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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