I know promotional videos tend to concentrate on the positives and completely ignore the negatives but this concept from Leidos (formely SAIC) looks interesting.
In response to a contract from DARPA Leidos released this press release
An autonomous unmanned vessel designed to track quiet diesel-electric submarines spanning miles of ocean depths for months at a time with minimal human input is now under construction and is expected to set sail for testing in 2015. Leidos (NYSE: LDOS), a national security, health and engineering solutions company, has begun construction on ACTUV (Autonomous Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel) under a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) program for the design, development, and construction of a vessel originally conceived for an anti-submarine warfare mission.
“ACTUV’s advanced sensor technology should allow for continuous surveillance which, combined with the vessel architecture and design, is expected to provide autonomous safe navigation supporting Navy missions around the world,” said Leidos Group President, John Fratamico.
ACTUV carries other sensors and mission packages designed to allow it to conduct a variety of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and other alternate missions. With situational sensors that can ensure safe navigation, the ACTUV trimaran has electro optics, long range and short range radar.
“A cross-disciplinary Leidos team leveraged insights and innovation from across the organization to develop the concept of the autonomous unmanned vessel. It would help keep our troops out of harm’s way and provide capability in more harsh environmental conditions for a longer period of time,” added Fratamico.
Maritime and hydrodynamic engineers designed the platform, and scientists and experts designed autonomy for safe navigation, status and health reporting, and sensor control and processing. Analytics experts programmed the logic for identifying other vessels and predicting their behavior.
Leidos received direction to start construction of the ACTUV from DARPA Program Manager Scott Littlefield at the conclusion of a Production Readiness Review held in February. Christensen Shipyard, Ltd. (CSL), is constructing ACTUV in Vancouver, Washington using non-traditional composite structures and modular construction techniques under supervision of Leidos and Oregon Iron Works (Clackamas, Oregon). CSL employs a lean manufacturing process with parallel work flow to complete ACTUV construction in approximately 15 months. ACTUV is scheduled to be launched on the Columbia River in 2015.
Rather than concentrating expensive sensors into increasingly rare high end surface and airborne platforms this would seem to offer the prospect of an alternative, distributing cheaper sensors across cheaper and numerous platforms netted together so the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.
I doubt it would actually be all that cheap, these things never are, but an interesting alternative approach nonetheless and one worth bearing in mind as we move into Type 26 and Nimrod replacement territory.
The times they are a changin.