Manta Ray: submarine drones with infinite autonomy imagined by Darpa

To realize its project of submarine drones with infinite autonomy, Darpa is embarking on the construction phase of a prototype.

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[EN VIDÉO] This boat developed by Darpa sails without a pilot
In recent years, aerial drones have developed at high speed, especially because they offer many advantages. The Darpa, the research and development agency of the American army, therefore applied the concept to the maritime world and built a fully autonomous boat. Here it is presented in video.

A drone submarine stealth capable of evolving underwater in an infinite way without ever returning to its base, here is the Darpa project in the USA. Called Manta Ray, this program is under development and Darpa has just awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group for the construction of a prototype. To create the power supply system energy perpetual, the Metron company was sponsored. It is the circulation of water in small propellers that could make it possible to produce electricity to run the submarine’s propulsion system.

At the moment, it is not clear what technology will be on board to generate electricity, but the concept of energy recoveryenergy is not a first. It has already been tested on surface vessels of the  » wave glider « . These combine solar energy and that generated by waves to ensure their propulsion. Last year an experimental boat was able to sail for more than a year and travel 16,000 kilometers from San Francisco to dock in Australia.

An energy recovery system should make it possible to supply the propulsion and onboard systems of the submarine indefinitely. © Darpa

Designed for stealth

On the artist’s views of the Manta Ray, one can notice its unusual shape. It allows it to have minimal drag to optimize energy expenditure, while providing it with stealth capabilities. The Manta Ray will also have a artificial intelligence to be able to identify and communicate with surrounding vessels and submarines. On the operational side, the drone submarine could be used to embark sonars and electronic warfare equipment. It could also make it possible to discreetly deposit sensors acoustic on the seabed, or the new US Navy Hammerhead marine drone mine.

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