ONR's autonomous underwater hull inspection vehicle nearing procurement

Apr 07, 2011
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System can maneuver under ships to detect explosives. Funded by the Office of Naval Research, is closer to reality following the awarding of a production contract in March. Credit: Courtesy photo

An Office of Naval Research (ONR) autonomous underwater vehicle, which can maneuver under ships to detect explosives, is closer to reality following the awarding of a production contract in March.

Since that award, ONR researchers have been preparing for a demonstration of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System (EOD HULS) in June at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Fla.

That test will be the last with the full system, said Dr. Thomas Swean an ONR research scientist.

"This will be a big demonstration of our capabilities. The system will go into the water to survey a ship," he said. "ONR developed an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that could maneuver in very tight and complex areas."

On March 2, Massachusetts-based Bluefin Robotics was awarded a $30 million contract to produce EOD HULS. The goal is to develop a small and affordable that can inspect ships for anomalies.

Previously, teams of divers had been required to carry out inspections of hulls. That work often took hours to complete on vessels that could be as large as , Swean said.

HULS evolved from the Hovering , an ONR initiative awarded to Bluefin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002. Bluefin designed the vehicle while MIT developed the control systems.

The EOD program office then turned the idea into the EOD HULS program with initial funding that started in 2006.

Three bids were received for the initial development phase, and the Bluefin team was selected. Under phase two, Bluefin developed prototype systems. Those UUVs passed all testing, leading to the March contract award for procurement of EOD HULS.

Besides the platform itself, ONR is also involved in developing many of the sensors being used on EOD HULS, Swean said. "Some date from as far back as the early 1990s."

Explore further: Message-bearing coffee foam taps printer mechanics

Related Stories

ONR-guided tech tracks what's inside ships

Apr 01, 2010

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is funding emerging technology that will allow wireless surveillance not only of ships and aircraft, but also the tracking of people and high value assets inside the ships.

Engineers Deliver Robot to Neutralize Remote Explosives

Jul 21, 2005

Engineers from the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate have rapidly prototyped, developed, and delivered low-cost expendable robots to disable and dispose of improvised explosive devices.

Recommended for you

Making houses in Sweden with additive manufacturing

16 hours ago

In a collaborative project worth SEK 35 million, researchers and external partners are together developing technology to make full-scale 3D prints of cellulos- based material. It is not a matter of small ...

3-D printer churns out handheld underground water model

17 hours ago

Cutting-edge three dimensional printing technology has produced a plastic model representing the land surface and underground water systems across 3.5 million hectares of the La Grange groundwater allocation ...

Major step for implantable drug-delivery device

19 hours ago

An implantable, microchip-based device may soon replace the injections and pills now needed to treat chronic diseases: Earlier this month, MIT spinout Microchips Biotech partnered with a pharmaceutical giant ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.