DARPA released its concept for an autonomous marine drone a year ago, and now it’s a reality.
The drone is the largest unmanned surface vehicle ever built, coming in at 130-feet long, Steve Walker, DARPA deputy director, said in a Feb. 10 press briefing according to National Defense Magazine. Called the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV for short, the marine drone is capable of navigating the seas entirely on its own.
The marine drone will be observed by the Office of Naval Research and the Space and Naval Systems Warfare Command for 18 months starting in April, Walker said at the press briefing. The ACTUV could be used for purposes like reconnaissance and resupply.
“Imagine an unmanned surface vessel following all the laws of the sea on its own and operating with manned surface and unmanned underwater vehicles,” Walker said.
The ACTUV will use sonar to detect other vessels in the water and will allow it follow disel electric submarines, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Navy sonar buoys will help the drone navigate before its internal software kicks in. The drone’s first mission could be as soon as 2017.
The drone can operate for 60 to 90 days without any interference from a crew member, Christian Science also reported.
DARPA received almost $3 billion for the 2017 fiscal year that was split up to fund three strategic areas, one of which is called “rethinking complex military systems.” The drone was made as part of that strategic area, which aims to “build highly capable military systems, especially to prepare for fights with highly capable adversaries.”
Watch the ACTUV rendering below:
NOW WATCH: An inside look at Marine One — Obama’s favorite presidential perk