Pentagon considers underwater recharging stations for sub drones

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The US Navy is aiming within the next 10 years to be able deploy unmanned, underwater pods where robotic mini-subs can recharge undetected and securely upload intelligence to Navy networks. “It’s a 7-Eleven underwater,” for robots, programmer manager Mike Wardlaw, of the Navy’s Forward-Deployed Energy and Communications Outpost (FDECO), told Breaking Defense.

The pods will allow the unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to dock, recharge, upload data and download new orders before shoving off again. FDECO will be designed to overcome the two main limitations on UUVs: power and communications.

Full-sized submarines are powered by diesel engines or nuclear reactors, but robotic mini-subs rely on batteries, which carry much less energy density, or pound-for-pound power. So while a larger battery makes a UUV more powerful, it also makes it more expensive and easier to detect.

“How would you design a car to drive all the way across the country?” Wardlaw asked. “You can design (a) car that has a tanker behind it, and it’s carrying all the fuel that it needs, or you can put some gas stations along the way. What I’m doing is, I’m creating the 7-Elevens or the gas stations along the way.”

Full article: Pentagon considers underwater recharging stations for sub drones (Spacewar)

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