Bluefin Robotics and the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have successfully completed the Reliant Heavyweight unmanned underwater vehicle’s (UUV) long-endurance mission from Boston to New York, totalling over 100 hours.
During the multi-day mission, conducted as part of a series to support NRL’s research in UUV-based technology for the US Navy, the team exercised UUV autonomy methods as well as demonstrated capability of a high capacity energy configuration.
The UUV travelled completely autonomously at an average speed of 2.5k at 10m water depth and resurfaced every 20km to provide navigation updates for the team members over GPS, as part of the mission with overall effort funded by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR).
As well as onshore, the team onboard Boston Harbor Cruise’s, M/V Matthew J. Hughes also received vehicle status information over Iridium satellite system.
After 109 hours of operation, the system successfully transited over 500km through strong currents and reached its destination end point in New York Harbor with 10% of its battery life remaining.
The endurance test has been designed to extend the UUV limits, with the objective to address the need for significantly extending endurance for new applications.
Reliant, which is an advanced version of the Bluefin-21 vehicle, can be integrated with a low frequency broadband (LFBB) sonar payload to serve as a prototype Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV) Knifefish system for the US Navy.
Featuring fibre-optic gyro-based INS, the unmanned vehicle uses supplemental data from a GPS and a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) for long endurance missions with precise underwater navigation.
The Knifefish MCM UUV will enable sailors to detect and identify mines in high-clutter underwater environments, including those that are suspended in the ocean, resting on the sea floor, or buried.
Image: US NRL’s Reliant Heavyweight UUV onboard a vessel. Photo: copyright of Bluefin Robotics Corporation.