The 2018-edition of the US Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) provided a venue for industry and academia to demonstrate new navy technologies with a focus on interaction between humans and machines.
Taking place at Naval Station Newport and the Narragansett Bay Test Facility (NBTF) at the end of August, the exercise was the largest so far in terms of the number of participants and technologies showcased.
ANTX provides a low-risk environment in which scientists and engineers may evaluate their technological innovations at the research and development level before their technologies become militarized and integrated at the operational level.
Northrop Grumman’s micro synthetic aperture sonar and Fire Scout sonobuoy air drop demonstration
Northrop Grumman used a modified Fire Scout UAS at the ANTX to launch a sonobuoy in a demonstration of future mission applications for this platform. The company also highlighted seabed warfare capabilities with its micro synthetic aperture sonar (µSAS) and real-time automated target recognition technologies.
The µSAS is a low size, weight and power, high-performance payload that can operate off a man-portable autonomous underwater vehicle for real-time classification of mine-like objects.
“This technology is an example of leveraging digital transformation to rapidly provide software defined, hardware enabled capabilities to the fleet,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. “Integration of unmanned and autonomous capabilities into the battle space reduces staffing required to conduct operations and risk to personnel, while supporting our nation’s continued undersea superiority.”
During ANTX, a General Dynamics Mission Systems-led team successfully completed testing and releases the updated Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) WFv3.1.5 waveform for the US Navy’s software defined Digital Modular Radios (DMR).
The new waveform is software that adds the MUOS capability to software-defined DMR radios, and improves secure voice, video and data communications across the MUOS satellite communications (SATCOM) network. DMR is a four-channel radio and the Navy’s communications hub for surface ships, submarines and shore-site communications.
As a multi-channel radio, it simultaneously communicates with a wide spectrum of tactical radios and can communicate information at different security levels. Each channel operates independently, allowing Navy communication officers to communicate simultaneously with a wide variety of tactical radios used by the military.
Teledyne’s approach to Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures
Teledyne Marine teamed with industry partners to showcase an autonomous, system of systems approach to expeditionary mine-countermeasures (MCM) using multi domain unmanned assets.
The multi-vehicle, multi-company demonstration began with a Power Docks Blue Isles Autonomous Power Microgrid platform simulating providing power to all vehicles. An Oceansciance Z-Boat 1800 RP autonomous surface vessel, started the exercise by performing a bathymetric and LiDAR survey of the basin. Next, a Planck Aerosystems Shearwater unmanned aerial vehicle conducted surface surveillance for both object avoidance and threat mitigation for the Z-Boat.
A Teledyne Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle then conducted a search-classify-map sidescan survey of the basin. Teledyne Caris-Onboard, which is running on the Gavia AUV, performed mosaicing of the sidescan data in near real time while Charles River Analytics’ onboard ATR software, also running in near real time on the Gavia AUV, used advanced image processing algorithms to analyze the CARIS mosaics and perform Automatic Target Recognition (ATR).
“Following the theme of “Human Machine Interaction”, Teledyne and its partners demonstrated how today’s mine countermeasures activities can safely be performed by multi domain assets incorporating much needed autonomy,” explained Teledyne Marine System’s Vice President of Engineering, Bob Melvin. “Nicknamed by NUWC Newport, “The Battle of the Basin”, our exceptional team used a strength in numbers approach by combining our individual technologies, most of which were small businesses, to perform the job to be done. Autonomy was the focus, starting with mission planning, navigation, and station keeping. Then we mixed in real time data processing and target recognition on the vehicles themselves. Post mission analysis time was practically zero. The thirty-two minute exercise was an amazing display of using autonomous vehicles for mine detection and clearance in a small harbor while keeping the warfighter out of harm’s way.”
Drone swarms at ANTX
Another highlight of the ANTX was a drone swarm demonstration in which Draper joined Riptide Autonomous Solutions and Teledyne Benthosto have five five unmanned undersea vehicles completed a simulated offensive mission in the open sea.
The sortie involved the vehicles transiting 2 miles while maintaining undersea communications, surfacing for periodic GPS fixes, going into a loiter, acoustically passing targeting coordinates, receiving instructions to engage and then closing in on a simulated surface target.
Riptide provided the vehicle components of the swarm with its micro-UUVs. Teledyne Benthos provided a custom configuration of their Band C Compact Acoustic Modem, and Draper provided the mission level autonomy through its Maritime Open Architecture Autonomy (MOAA) platform.
“Staying ahead of an adaptable adversary requires a flexible, multidisciplinary system development approach,” said Bill Borgia, mission systems director at Draper. “UUVs support myriad Navy missions by combining affordability, endurance and strength through scale.”