Manta Ray Drone Passes Military Test in California

Manta Ray Drone Passes Military Test in California

The U.S. Navy has recently conducted trials for an innovative, self-driving underwater drone, shaped like a manta ray, which can remain dormant on the ocean floor for extended periods. This prototype, developed under a project by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), aims to enhance the duration and autonomy of underwater missions.

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Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and constructed by Northrop Grumman, the autonomous vehicle has completed a three-month testing phase off the Southern California coast.

According to Dr. Kyle Woerner, the DARPA program manager for Manta Ray, the drone utilizes a buoyancy-driven gliding mechanism for movement, which contributes to its efficiency in water.

The unmanned underwater vehicle is able to anchor itself to the seabed and “hibernate” in low-power mode (Picture: Northrop Grumman)

Dr. Woerner highlighted the successful tests, stating that they confirm the vehicle’s readiness for practical, real-world deployment. He also noted that the drone is equipped with multiple payload bays of various sizes to support diverse naval missions.

The Manta Ray was assembled in Maryland and transported in parts to California for testing. Woerner explained that shipping the drone directly to its operation site helps save the energy it would otherwise use in transit.

DARPA is currently collaborating with the U.S. Navy to determine future testing phases and the potential integration of this technology into naval operations.

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