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ONR explores USV power-generation concepts

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) is launching a new science and technology effort aimed at advancing the development of power-generation systems suitable for long range/long endurance unmanned surface vehicles (USVs).

Aimed at maturing technologies and techniques at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3-4, the Robust Unmanned Platform Power Systems research thrust is aligned to the US Navy’s (USN’s) interest in developing low cost, high endurance reconfigurable USVs that can accommodate various payloads. ONR is interested in scalable and/or modular power systems – able to support multiple platforms and power loads – that would offer reduced maintenance while at the same time increasing operational availability and endurance.

The USN is pursuing the development of a number of different unmanned surface platforms under its Unmanned Campaign Framework. ONR’s new research thrust is intended to explore modular and scalable power-generation systems applicable to Class 2 (small), Class 3 (medium), and Class 4 (large) USVs, and support some or all of the mission power needs such as propulsion, ship service, sensors, and/or mission payloads.

ONR announced on 19 March that it is pursuing research in two specific topic areas. Topic Area 1 is aimed at developing a conceptual small power system (25–250 kW) suitable for a Class 2 USV, while Topic Area 2 is focused on a conceptual large power system (250–2,500 kW) aimed at Class 3 and Class 4 USVs. In both cases, ONR is seeking information on working media availability, and the potential to perform component and/or scaled system demonstration(s) to validate high-risk areas.

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