US Navy tests autonomous underwater drone for operational intelligence preparation - M5 Dergi
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US Navy tests autonomous underwater drone for operational intelligence preparation

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The US Navy has demonstrated an “end-to-end intelligence preparation of the operational environment (IPOE) mission” with a prototype of the Snakehead large displacement uncrewed undersea vehicle (LDUUV).

The examination, led by experts from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, was carried out at the Narragansett Bay Test Facility.

The underwater drone was fitted with a Draper Laboratory-developed Maritime Open Architecture Autonomy program. It also collected sonar data through technology provided by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.

During the test, the Snakehead LDUUV “conducted a long distance ingress, performed a sonar survey box, and then egressed back to the test facility” achieving a new milestone in total sortie endurance.

“The accomplishment of this mission in the system’s intended operational environment was a big step for the program to gain confidence in the vehicle software and hardware systems,” Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department Head Chris DelMastro said.


Snakehead is a reconfigurable and modular multi-mission LDUUV commonly deployed by submarines and surface ships.

The technology assists naval units by feeding data on propulsion, navigation, control, maneuvering, and situational awareness for the relevant course of action of warfighters during IPOE missions.

The underwater drone is built with innovative hull materials, advanced sensors, and launch and recovery systems. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

Currently, the Snakehead unit holds a record of 155 in-water sorties and over 78 hours of runtime while operating with a government-owned controlled modular open system for mission planning and operational analysis.

Prior to the recent test, Snakehead already went through 190 hours of hardware and software simulations to ensure that the parameters set by the vehicle are precise.

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