Navy tests real-time mine-detecting UASs

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. The US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) has embarked on testing an aerial mine-detection unmanned aerial system (UAS) with a twist: The UAS being tested would provide warfighters with real-time threat identification during combat operations.

The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability system (MIW RAC) -- sponsored by the ONR TechSolutions program -- comprises a portable one-pound (0.45-kg) quadcopter, equipped with a proprietary magnetometer suite and processing algorithms to detect buried and submerged mines. The data is sent back to an tablet, where a green map of the area is marked with red clusters highlighting potentially dangerous issues. The aim of using aerial data for real-time decisions is to give sailors and marines an information edge as they attempt an amphibious beach landing.

MIW RAC is a portable, remote-controlled system designed to help explosive-ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. It is aimed at complementing existing underwater mine-detection capabilities.

At a recent demonstration of the technology held at Camp Pendleton, Dr. Rosemarie Oelrich -- a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock’s Combatant Craft Division -- and Dr. Cory Stephanson -- president and chief executive officer of project partner Broadband Discovery Systems (BDS) -- used an Android tablet  that showed search data gathered by a UAS they had just put aloft. Their green fluorescent map was splashed with red clusters of varying sizes and shapes denoting simulated mines, highlighting potential danger areas.

The team hopes to have the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command test and evaluate prototypes of this aerial system later during 2017, with a view to pushing the system out through the Navy fleet during 2018.

Dr. Cory Stephanson (on left) and Dr. Rosemarie Oelrich (on right) during the recent test of the MIW RAC aerial mine-hunting system.

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