Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) has selected Sonardyne International’s BlueComm undersea communications system.

The commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology acquisition is part of DST’s ongoing programme in maritime autonomous systems (MAS).

BlueComm enables wireless transmission of high bandwidth tactical data, including video, over long ranges at rates of up to 10 megabits per second.

This will enable the forces to increase the communication capabilities of their underwater systems. They can also take informed decisions in theatres of operation.

It can be used with swarms of autonomous vehicles mapping areas for mine-like objects or emerging MAS networks.

BlueComm modems use light instead of sound to transmit and receive data for communications underwater. This allows higher delivery rates with lower latency.

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The modems are undetectable by sonar listening devices, making communication more secure.

They are configured for all operating environments, including shallow waters with high levels of ambient light and installation on underwater vehicles equipped with powerful lighting.

DST’s acquisition of BlueComm is aimed at understanding the operational implications of optical data transmission and its dependency on water clarity, geometry and ambient illumination.

Sonardyne Defence global business manager Ioseba Tena said: “BlueComm is a game changer for underwater operations, enabling autonomous and unmanned underwater vehicles (AUV/UUVs) and unmanned and manned vessels to communicate, without compromising their position.

“As we envision new concepts of operation which require interaction between different off-board assets subsea, the ability to share data covertly and securely cannot be underestimated.”

Last month, Sonardyne demonstrated technologies assisting autonomous vehicle operations in challenging environments as part of a project funded by the UK’s national Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

This demonstration was aimed at fast-tracking autonomous vehicle capability in challenging or harsh conditions.