DARPA has announced that it has awarded six contracts for work on the Angler unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) program, which aims to develop advanced autonomous robotic systems capable of performing physical intervention in undersea environments. The new systems will have to operate without reliance on GPS and human intervention, and perform functions in support of underwater infrastructure establishment and maintenance.
The Angler program will combine state-of-the-art terrestrial and space robotics technologies with advanced underwater sensing to develop autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating and surveying ocean depths, and physically manipulating human-made objects of interest.
Leidos, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and L3Harris Technologies will work on Track A of the Angler program, which focuses on developing an integrated solution that will handle all of the operational challenges within the program. SoarTech, EdgeTech and Kitware will work on Track B, which will specialise in navigation, autonomy, and perception solutions. The program will comprise three phases of development, resulting in a fully integrated prototype that will undertake an underwater mission in a dynamic, open ocean environment.
Expected benefits of the Angler UUV program include:
- Establishing functionality for long-duration mission navigation and autonomy deprived of GPS and surface-based communication
- Providing a first-of-its-kind long-distance undersea manipulation platform capable of fully autonomous operation
- Advancing perception systems to enable grasping underwater objects in degraded undersea environments