DARPA has continued development of its Manta Ray unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) project with the award of three contracts to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Martin Defense Group and Metron, Inc. The Manta Ray project seeks to develop innovative technologies that will allow payload-capable UUVs to undertake long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments.
UUV solutions created by the Manta Ray project will operate for extended durations without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance. Manta Ray also seeks to solve other critical UUV-related issues including energy management, reliability, biofouling, corrosion control, navigation, underwater obstacle avoidance, and many other areas that could benefit Navy operations.
The program has recently concluded its first major milestone with the completion of preliminary design reviews. In the near future, selected performers will advance their designs toward a critical design review that will confirm maturity before vehicle fabrication and testing in an anticipated Phase 2.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group will continue development of fully-integrated demonstration vehicles, while Metron will advance progress on a novel energy harvesting subsystem.
CDR Kyle Woerner, the program manager for Manta Ray, commented: “Manta Ray performers have each taken unique approaches to solving the wide range of challenges related to UUV endurance. To me, this is a clear sign we are tackling a complex problem without a clear ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
“The goals of this new class of undersea vehicle and its critical component technologies are to inform, as well as transition into, future Navy UUV efforts.”