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UUV for navy divers in development

22nd April 2016 - 15:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) and the Naval Post Graduate School are jointly developing a remotely-operated unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to assist navy divers in their missions.

The UUV, which is known as the Dive Buddy Remotely Operated Vehicle (DBROV), is designed as a tool to aid divers in transportation, search, communication and navigation. The Dive Buddy is a purpose-built hybrid vehicle that can be operated as an autonomous underwater vehicle, a diver propulsion vehicle, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), or any combination of the three.

Lee Cofer, electronics engineer, NSWC PCD, said: 'Navy capability for subsea human intervention that is rapid, low cost, and safe is extremely limited yet critical for all domain access, maritime security, power projection and sea control missions.

'Divers are necessary for these missions until the situational awareness, adaptability, agility and dexterity of a diver is duplicated in machines, likely decades from now. Meanwhile, unmanned systems are needed to sustain the navy's undersea asymmetric advantage. Addressing these operations by teaming divers with a specialised UUV has potential to safely achieve greater capability while addressing numerous documented mission needs.'

The DBROV was developed to meet the requirement for an agile base, fly-away UUV platform with autonomous capabilities that are adaptable and scalable to the diver's needs. The system can carry life-support tools and items of interest; and can navigate and transport the diver to dive sites, perform dive site reconnaissance and tagging, and conduct small area searches. It can also provide sonar information and voice/video/data communications to the surface.

According to the development team, examples of missions the DBROV would be useful for include disabled submarine escape assessment or assistance and recovery of classified debris before they are reached by hostile forces.

The system is currently being shown to navy representatives, and a test period will begin in the summer. This will be followed by a demonstration of the system by the end of 2016.

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