DARPA begins development of long-range underwater drones

As part of the Manta Ray program, DARPA has signed contracts with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Navatek LLC to develop a new generation of long-range unmanned underwater vehicles - Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) - capable of operating for months without human maintenance.

DARPA reports that the Manta Ray program is evaluating new control and energy storage systems to increase the range and capabilities of low-power propulsion systems. Underwater unmanned vehicles must be able to detect and classify emerging threats, as well as effectively counter them.

In order for the outcome of the program to be considered successful, the new UUV must learn to operate independently in the open ocean, obtain more advanced control and monitoring systems, as well as a design from new, corrosion-resistant materials.

Upon completion of all three stages of the Manta Ray program, the created prototype of the UUV underwater drone will be tested in the open sea.

“The Manta Ray program aims to increase the operational capabilities of fleets on the high seas. It is designed to minimize disruption to operations due to the drones' ability to operate completely independently after deployment, ”said Kyle Werner, Program Manager at DARPA.