US Navy Sets Sights On Fielding Autonomous Swarming Drones

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The US Navy is reaching out to industry to address an operational need for what it is calling small Unmanned Surface Vehicle (sUSV) interceptors.

According to the announcement released by the Defense Initiative Unit (DIU), the service is looking for “small Unmanned Surface Vehicle (sUSV) interceptors, capable of autonomously transiting hundreds of miles through contested waterspace, loitering in an assigned operating area while monitoring for maritime surface threats, and then sprinting to interdict a noncooperative, maneuvering vessel.”

The effort, which is dubbed Production-Ready, Inexpensive, Maritime Expeditionary (PRIME), focuses on production-ready USVs that are capable of blue-water operations with autonomous waypoint navigation, and sense-and-avoid capabilities.

The desired requirements also call for the USVs to be capable of carrying payloads of 450 kg (1000 lbs) to a range of 500-1000 nmi, and have sprint speeds of 35 knots.

The second part of the solicitation focuses on the autonomy—both software and hardware—aspect of this. Seeking solutions that would enable multiple sUSV to cooperate together and adapt to changing target and environmental parameters.

The solicitation also states that all this might occur in a GNSS-denied environment, which the sUSVs must adapt to work in.

The announcement also calls into consideration the ease of exporting the designs under this effort to US allies, while also adhering to export regulations.

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