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Autonomous vehicles will replace manned teams in the middle of the ocean. An autonomous team of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) equipped for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and surveillance missions will be developed for the Australian navy. Thales Australia received $3.8m to develop the Blue Sentry autonomous system.
The Remote Active Sonar Systems (RASS) array, consisting of towed active and passive sonar sub systems, as well as an autonomous data processing, recording and reporting system will be integrated onto Ocius Technology’s autonomous platform for long-term maritime mission endurance – the Bluebottle.
The two companies have been working collaboratively since 2013 on the role of unmanned surface vehicles in anti-submarine warfare. The project is expected to run its initial phase for a period of three years, culminating in the development of a mission capable product demonstrator.
The Blue Sentry fleet of USVs integrated with sonar arrays will be capable of remaining operational for extended periods of time in any weather autonomously patrolling large areas of ocean performing underwater ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) missions. Missions that would have previously required the deployment of manned assets for many days.
Another advantage of the unmanned system is that it is capable of being deployed both at surface and sub-surface depths enabling detection, classification and localisation of craft on the surface or below the water that generate acoustic noise or produce acoustic reflections. In addition to the system’s autonomous detection capabilities, the Thales RASS element of Blue Sentry will enable covert communication to allies below the surface using long-range low frequency underwater communications.
Before the Blue Sentry is delivered however, there are a series of engineering innovations required to develop the current Bluebottle USV into Blue Sentry. The two companies will utilise funding provided by the Defence Innovation Hub to conduct research work into trusted team autonomy, navigation, size and power consumption of sonar systems, communications range and content, and more, according to navyrecognition.com.