Manta Ray UUV: Advancing Underwater Exploration

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The Manta Ray, an unmanned underwater vehicle developed by Northrop Grumman, underwent comprehensive in-water testing off the Southern California coast in February and March of this year.

Testing and Rapid Assembly

Testing demonstrated at-sea hydrodynamic performance, which included submerged activities using the vehicle’s propulsion and steering modes: buoyancy, control surfaces, and propellers.

Dr. Kyle Woerner, the DARPA program manager overseeing Manta Ray, highlighted the vehicle’s readiness to move toward operations after being assembled rapidly in the field from modular subsections.

The combination of cross-country modular transportation, in-field assembly, and the subsequent deployment indicates a first-of-kind capability for an XL UUV.

Logistics and Operational Capabilities

Northrop Grumman transported the Manta Ray prototype in subsections from Maryland to California, underscoring the ease of shipping and assembly. This logistical efficiency not only supports rapid deployment but also conserves energy that would otherwise be expended during transit to operational areas.

Woerner said that shipping the vehicle to its area of operation helps conserve energy, which the vehicle would expend during the transit.

Once deployed, the vehicle uses buoyancy-driven and efficient gliding to pass through the water.

Future Steps

The craft is carefully designed with many payload bays of considerable sizes and varieties to enable various naval mission sets.

Manta Ray aims to develop and demonstrate a new class of long-range, long-duration, payload-capable UUVs ready for operations in dynamic maritime spaces.

DARPA is now engaging with the US Navy on the next steps for transitioning and testing this technology.

PacMar Technologies, a second Manta Ray performer, is continuing to test its full-scale energy harvesting system this year.

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Source: Marineinsight