Whitney Million, Aquabotix CEO says, “This vehicle is a game-changer for both the industry and Aquabotix. Until today, there were simply no micro hybrid USV/UUV vehicles and no swarming unmanned vehicles with diving capabilities, commercially available in the industry. Aquabotix has changed that!”
Million announced yesterday the release of Aquabotix’s new micro marine drones that have the ability to swarm near and around each other, using GPS intercommunication protocols and a swarming algorithm to determine relative positioning.
Aquabotix’s new underwater drones are bordering on the edge of cuteness, even reminiscent of a gaggle of duck-diving goslings – but don’t be misled by these bright yellow aquatic drones.
This new technology, known as “maritime swarming”, is very quickly becoming an area of focus for naval forces across the globe. Engineered to handle dynamic operational situations, including Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and sophisticated, coordinated assaults through tracking, trailing and overwhelming targets, the technology has been through some initial military trials.
With the capability to carry a range of different payload options, SwarmDiver advances aquatic drone warfare tactics, and will be sure to initiate a revolution in underwater technologies, according to Aquabotix. The drones perform dives on command to collect valuable intelligence, being easily controlled by one operator on the surface.
Speaking with Aquabotix, Million told Drone Below that, “There are multiple customization options available for sensor integration that will support a variety of applications. As examples, integration of environmental sensors, including dissolved oxygen and conductivity, sound velocity probes, and cameras would all be viable options for this product.”
Such a versatile offering does not come without price, but Aquabotix are not offering these off-the-shelf to buyers. “Pricing depends on many factors, including but not limited to the selection of sensors integrated into these vehicles. For the time being we will engage with customers to determine the best solution for their intended use of the product and build customized pricing to reflect those bespoke solutions,” Million explains.
When deployed as a group, SwarmDivers function as a single coordinated entity, with sustained surf zone operation, meaning that the vehicles are able to operate in demanding surf zone environments that have historically posed a challenge for underwater and surface vehicles.
SwarmDiver can be viewed in operation here:
So, will SwarmDiver have to shake its cute duck-dive image? Perhaps not. In addition to naval and security applications, SwarmDiver has the potential to be of great use in marine research and oceanography, as well as harbour management.
Naval applications are still under development however but have potential. Million says, “While the concept of operations is still being developed for these applications, Aquabotix says general feedback has been positive with indications there is value in the offering.”
There is also potential for a wider range of use, Million says. Currently, battery endurance will depend on the mission but deployment length is expected to be generally up to two and a half hours currently. The range of wireless data feedback depends on the positioning of the directional antennae and line of sight. “In a typical operational environment, the range from base is approximately 1km and the endurance is up to 7km,” Million said. But with the use of other telecommunication protocols for a wider swarm range, Million confirmed that other applications such as oceanic monitoring, are “being considered”.
More key details of SwarmDiver are set out here:
- miniaturized – weighing just 1.7kg at a length of 75cm,
- vertical dive capability,
- ability to operate as both a UUV (diving underwater) and a USV (on the surface),
- 50 meter dive-depth,
- easily deployable and recoverable,
- wireless data feedback upon surfacing,
- high accuracy temperature (+/-0.1℃) and pressure sensor (+/- 2cm depth),
- additional sensor payloads available,
- multi-constellation GPS for +/-1m location accuracy,
- deployable in groups for synoptic data gathering,
- sustained surf zone operation, and
- low cost.