VIDEO: DARPA awards contracts for development of new class of autonomous UUV

DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has awarded Phase 2 contracts to build and test concepts for autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) in a project named Manta Ray.

As informed, the contracts for the project which started in 2020 were given to two prime contractors Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group. Under the project, both companies are each developing unique full-scale demonstration vehicles.

The Manta Ray program seeks to develop UUVs that operate for extended durations without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance.

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In Phase 1 of the program, performers designed and conducted preliminary testing on novel approaches in energy management, UUV reliability, biofouling and corrosion control, navigation, and undersea obstacle avoidance, among other areas that directly enable long-endurance missions.

“DARPA’s Manta Ray program has made significant breakthroughs toward enabling payload-capable autonomous underwater vehicles to operate independently of crewed vessels or support infrastructure,” stated CDR Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray’s program manager.

“By investing in diverse solutions, DARPA strengthens our ability to transition innovative undersea technologies to our national security partners. Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicle while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs.”

The Manta Ray program concluded Phase 1 with critical design reviews that demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2.

Photo by: DARPA

The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.