Home Bots & Brains Northrop Grumman and DARPA Succesfully Test Maritime Robot

Northrop Grumman and DARPA Succesfully Test Maritime Robot

by Marco van der Hoeven

The Manta Ray prototype, an uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) developed by Northrop Grumman, has completed its full-scale, in-water testing phase off the coast of Southern California. Conducted in February and March 2024, the tests evaluated the UUV’s hydrodynamic performance, including its submerged operations which utilize buoyancy, propellers, and control surfaces for propulsion and steering.

Dr. Kyle Woerner, the DARPA program manager for Manta Ray, stated that the successful tests confirm the vehicle’s operational readiness following its rapid assembly from modular subsections. This modular approach facilitated cross-country transportation and field assembly, showcasing a novel capability for extra-large UUVs.

The prototype was transported in pieces from Maryland to California, emphasizing the ease of assembly and potential for quick deployment globally, which could prove beneficial for naval operations without using extensive pier space. Woerner highlighted that direct deployment to operational areas helps conserve the vehicle’s energy, which would otherwise be spent in transit. The vehicle is engineered to move efficiently through water using buoyancy-driven gliding and is equipped with various payload bays to support a broad range of naval missions.

The Manta Ray project is part of an initiative to develop and demonstrate new classes of long-duration, long-range UUVs capable of enduring operations in challenging maritime environments. DARPA is collaborating with the U.S. Navy to plan further testing and integration of this technology. Additionally, another participant in the project, PacMar Technologies, is set to continue its testing of an advanced energy harvesting system throughout 2024.

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