The US Navy has awarded a contract to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to develop a autonomous submarine to collect military intelligence information in coastal waters and harbours.

Under the $2.5m contract, the company will construct a prototype of a small unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) mothership that could collect the sensor data from drones and deploy smaller under water vehicles.

In addition, SAIC will demonstrate to the navy how a UUV mothership might carry, deploy and recover smaller UUVs.

The contract awarded by the Office of Naval Research is part of an ongoing navy programme called autonomous UUV delivery and communication.