DARPA autonomous unmanned vessel moves up to Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) reports successful completion of its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program; it has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

will continue to develop the all-new prototype vehicle -- the first of what says could ultimately become an entirely new class of oceangoing vessel able to travel thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time without a single crew member aboard -- as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).

Such a "drone ship," said a DARPA announcement, would operate using automated payload and sensor data processing, have an entire set of mission-specific autonomous behaviors, and could engage in autonomous coordination with other Sea Hunters.

“ACTUV’s move from DARPA to ONR marks a significant milestone in developing large-scale USV technology and autonomy capabilities,” said Alexander Walan, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “Our collaboration with ONR has brought closer to reality a future fleet in which both manned warships and capable large unmanned vessels complement each other to accomplish diverse, evolving missions.”

Defense contractor Leidos began work on the ACTUV vessel in 2014; DARPA started speed tests on what it had dubbed "Sea Hunter" in April 2016.

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