DARPA - Manta Ray UUV Maritime Drone project in Phase Two
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DARPA launches phase two of the Manta Ray UUV maritime drone project. The Manta Ray UUV cannot be easily ignored for just manta rays, as its looks may be deceptive.

The Manta drone project was launched by DARPA in 2020, and last week it signed deals with 2 defense companies to continue working on the aquatic drone. Work on the development of full-scale demonstration versions of the aquatic drone will be carried out by teams from Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group. Earlier development was carried out on conceptual and schematic computer-generated simulations.

According to DARPA, Phase One of the Manta Ray program concluded with critical reviews that demonstrated conceptual and design viability. The project is not ready to step into phase two of the development process.

Martin Defense and Northrop Grumman will initially work on subsystem testing, followed by production and submarine demonstrations of completed UUVs. Earlier this year China unveiled the Robo-Shark drone, something similar to DARPA’s aquatic drone.

At the end of Phase Two, the contracting groups will be able to exhibit Manta-Ray UUV in action. Their main capability will be to perform long-distance and -endurance aquatic missions. DARPA has refrained from sharing further insight into the maritime drone, being a national defense innovation. They just mentioned it is a tech that will offer payload-capable autonomous ocean sorties.

The video below will offer you some insights into what the UUV may be used for. The Manta Ray UUV maritime drone can cruise the ocean, as it stabilizes itself to allow a second drone to pop out of its back for apparent data collection and surveillance work. The secondary drone can be used to facilitate the transfer and storage of information in the host UUV, in which the mini-craft re-docks before the pair moves silently on.

According to Commander Kyle Woerner, manager of DARPA’s Manta Ray program, “DARPA’s Manta Ray program has made significant breakthroughs toward enabling payload-capable autonomous underwater vehicles to operate independently of crewed vessels or support infrastructure.”

He further said, “By investing in diverse solutions, DARPA strengthens our ability to transition innovative undersea technologies to our national security partners. Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicles while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs.”

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