Why Energy Companies And The Military Want Underwater Drones

It all boils down to national security, military application, the protection of natural resources, trade routes, so on and so forth.

We already have drone aircraft patrolling the skies for the military and intelligence agencies. Now the military and energy companies want to develop their seaborne equivalent–autonomous, self-guided underwater vehicles.

Giant submarines filled with small underwater drones to protect the seas. The concept sounds like something out of a science fiction movie or a particularly trippy Sealab 2021 episode, but the U.S. military thinks it is very doable–and that it could help augment American sea power. This week, DARPA announced their new Project Hydra, an early-stage effort to fight the “rising number of ungoverned states, piracy, and proliferation of sophisticated defenses“ through autonomous underwater vehicles. Hydra itself would center around a submarine that discreetly injects unmanned aerial drones (UAVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) into warzones.

While DARPA’s proposal is in the early stages, unmanned underwater vehicles have been around for quite some time. Hydroid (no relation to Hydra) is a Massachusetts-based subsidiary of Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg which specializes in manufacturing autonomous underwater vehicles. I recently spoke with Hydroid’s president and co-founder, Chris Von Alt, about how autonomous drones actually work underwater. The firm’s customers, which include militaries around the world, energy companies, and scientific institutions, all use AUVs to go where it’s too time-consuming or deadly for human-manned boats to go. For instance, removing mines.

Full article: Why Energy Companies And The Military Want Underwater Drones (Co.EXIST)

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