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Leidos runs at-sea testing for autonomous vessel prototype

19th November 2014 - 13:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


A prototype maritime autonomy system developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) programme has completed 42 days of at-sea demonstrations it was announced on 18 November.

The ACTUV programme aims to develop an unmanned vessel optimised to robustly track quiet diesel electric submarines.

The prototype system is designed to control the manoeuvring and mission functions of the ACTUV. Leidos used a 32-foot work boat as a surrogate vessel, and installed autonomy software and sensors to mimic the configuration intended for an eventual full-size ACTUV prototype.

The testing involved evaluations of how the prototype ACTUV autonomy system will fulfil collision regulations (COLREGS) published by the International Maritime Organization.

To test for COLREGS compliance, Leidos conducted simulation and at-sea testing, in scenarios where the ACTUV surrogate must interact with an interfering vessel.

During a recent on-the-water test event, the surrogate boat autonomously navigated through narrow channels avoiding navigation aids and submerged hazards. The boat safely avoided surface ships it encountered along the route, satisfying COLREGS requirements in completely unscripted events. 

The testing will pave the way for follow-on testing involving multiple interfering contacts and adversarial behaviours of interfering vessels. 

Construction of Sea Hunter, the first ACTUV vessel, continues at Christensen Shipyard in Clackamas, Oregon.  Sea Hunter is scheduled to launch in late summer 2015 and begin testing in the Columbia River shortly thereafter.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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