Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wave-powered USV’s for Future Naval Intelligence Collection

NOAA recently deployed a Liquid Robotics Wave Rider to help track hurricanes in the Atlantic. The robot, called Alex, has operated on the fringes of hurricane Isaac, and has sensors to gather data on surface winds, barometric pressure, and wave characteristics.  Alex joins the other autonomous vehicles in NOAA’s fleet (see live data feeds here). 



 Wave Glider Video from AUVSI 2012 (courtesy Liquid Robotics)

In addition to collecting oceanographic data, these types of USVs may someday serve as affordable naval intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.  The technologies required to autonomously operate for long periods at sea, recharge batteries via solar panels, collect oceanography data, and transmit that data thousands of miles is directly applicable to ISR missions.  The miniaturization of sensors will enable platforms like the Wave Glider to conduct long range duration intelligence collection patrols that are currently conducted by ships and submarines at a fraction of the cost and manpower.  A small low-profile USV could discretely operate off an enemy coast relaying signals intelligence or acoustic data back to a mother ship or home base.

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