Aquabotix has developed a swarming micro unmanned surface vessel (USV) that operates within a swarm and can dive below the surface to become an unmanned underwater vessel, collect data, surface, and return home.
The company has delivered 10 SwarmDivers to the US Navy, Ted Curley, chief development officer for Aquabotix, told Jane’s on 9 April at the annual Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
SwarmDiver is 75 cm long and weighs about 1.7 kg. It can be deployed by dropping it from a boat or a pier into the water. It can also be deployed from a larger USV, he said.
The vessel has a range of 7 km and battery life of up to 2.5 hours. It uses a dual short-range radio and can communicate with other SwarmDivers that are within 5 m. One vehicle acts like a “queen bee”, Curley said, with the other vehicles communicating back to it. All the communications are done on the surface.
The USV is also fitted with GPS, IMU, and a compass.
The small USV can typically dive to a depth of 50 m, but Curley noted it has been successfully tested at depths of more than 100 m. Because of its size and weight, SwarmDiver can operate in the surf zone.
Aquabotix is looking at different payloads, but for now SwarmDiver is fitted with sensors to collect environmental data. Within a swarm, each vessel can be fitted with a different sensor depending on an operator’s needs, Curley said.
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