DARPA transfers ACTUV prototype to ONR
DARPA has completed the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) programme and transferred the technology demonstration vessel to the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
Known as Sea Hunter, the vessel will now undergo further development with ONR as part of work to develop a new class of ocean-going vessel able to navigate thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a crew member onboard as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
The ACTUV prototype has been in development since 2014. The vessel has undergone at-sea testing of its sensing and autonomy suites, and has passed progressively challenging tests to integrate the suites and use them to comply with International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea in operationally realistic scenarios.
The agencies also conducted tests to prove the flexibility of the vessel's design to handle diverse missions by switching between modular payloads.
ONR is planning to conduct additional at-sea tests to further develop automated payload and sensor data processing, new mission-specific autonomous behaviours, and explore autonomous coordination among multiple USVs.
After successful test results, the vessel could be transitioned for US Navy operations.
Fred Kennedy, director, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA, said: ‘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.
‘The US 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.’
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