Together, the U.S. Defense Research Agency (DAPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the U.S. Navy, military UAV companies, Raytheon and Leidos have worked together to design, manufacture, test and evaluate the world’s largest unmanned naval ship, “Sea Hunter”.
This Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) is designed to serve the U.S. Navy with communication relays, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Measuring 132 ft. in length, this Class III Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) is capable of traveling at a speed of 27 knots with an estimated range of 10,000 nautical miles, and a duration of 90 days at sea without a single on-board crew member.
The estimated daily cost to operate this military USV is $15,000 to $20,000, which is a fraction of the cost to operate a destroyer ($700,000/day).
A USV like Sea Hunter would also be more cost-effective than using warships, aircraft or a UAV during military missions that involve locating, tracking and countering threats, including hostile subs, mines, and similar underwater hazards.
USV fleets could also provide 24/7 protection for inlets, harbors and other sensitive maritime locations, as well as deliver missiles, torpedoes and supplies to sea-faring military vessels.
MDUSVs like Sea Hunter could also provide enemy scouting far beyond the U.S. Navy’s manned ships, and get close to enemy aircraft carriers or amphibious assault ships.
Under remote human supervisory control, this highly autonomous MDUSV could bring about a new era of naval operations – dominated by remote crew-operated marine drone systems that could revolutionize U.S. maritime operations and naval warfare.
With the U.S. Military placing a strategic importance on replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces with lots of ‘pawns’ on the maritime chessboard, Sea Hunter is just one part of a “low-cost drone wave” that would complement the US. Navy’s more expensive manned ships, or potentially eradicate the need for larger manned ships altogether.
In order for military USVs to accomplish diverse and evolving missions and transform conventional submarine warfare, there must be a commanding investment in sophisticated motion control technology, advanced sensor design and complex mechatronics.
Specific technologies that will be especially important for the maturation of military USVs include advancements in:
- Intelligent Orientation Control
- Video Stabilization
- Quiet Operation
- Resistance to Shock & Vibration
- Resistance to Temperature Extremes/Harsh Environments
- Return to Home
- Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC)
- Collision/Obstacle Avoidance (Monocular Vision, Ultrasonic/Sonar, Infrared, Lidar)
By leveraging strategic partnerships with industry innovators in mechatronics, motion control, sensors and software, the U.S Navy is poised to be a transformative leader in 21st century undersea warfare and maritime operations.
US Motion specializes in progressive, state=of-the-art motion control technology, mechatronic components and embedded mechatronic systems.
We are invested in creating custom electromechanical solutions, particularly for the advancement of deep sea exploration, deep space exploration, UAV/UAS, and military missions.