DARPA issued a news release today with some photos of the Phase II prototypes for the SHARK (Submarine Hold At RisK) UUV ( (unmanned underwater vehicle). The robot is designed for Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH), which is DOD acronym-speak for a distributed active sonar system which can track hard to detect silent submarines. The SHARK is built from commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts to help reduce the cost. SHARK works with another platform known as TRAPS (Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System), which is a passive sonar detector platform that will be stationed at a fixed location. When a submarine triggers the TRAPS system, a SHARK is dispatched to locate and track the submarine. From the news release:
“The goal is not only to show we can address the most challenging problem in ASW [anti-submarine warfare], but that we can do so with systems that are scalable and affordable,” said Andy Coon, DARPA program manager. “A single deep sea node provides a field of view with significant coverage allowing for a limited number of nodes to scale to large areas. Within the trade space of deep ocean sonar, we need to get creative to achieve affordable hardware and operations. We purposely have avoided increasing the size and complexity of arrays to achieve our aims. This is a gamble, but we believe the potential payoff will be high.”
The SHARK prototype looks to be a modified version of a Bluefin Robotics AUV, maybe the Bluefin-21. For more details see the Bluefin Robotics press release. Also see our article last year on DARPA's other anti-submarine robot technology, known as ACTUV (ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicles) - DARPA does like its acronyms.