underwater autonomous robot (DARPA)

Unmanned Systems

DARPA's Angler program wants better underwater robots

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency want to apply technology developed for terrestrial and space-exploring robots to undersea manipulation.

The Angler program proposes an underwater robotic system that autonomously navigates and surveys the sea floor and can physically manipulate manmade objects. Currently, undersea operations are conducted with tethered, remotely operated vehicles that are limited by their connection to manned ships and by limited communications available in environments where GPS and high-bandwidth wireless signals are impractical.

Several technological breakthroughs will be required for undersea robots, including:

  • High-accuracy navigation in GPS-deprived underwater environments.
  • Perception and manipulation strategies for grasping unknown or degraded manmade objects.
  • Approaches that allow robots to detect their location and health of their own systems.

DARPA envisions several teams working on hardware and software for robotic sensing, autonomy, object manipulation and underwater transit.  Eventually, it sees undersea robots conducting long-duration, long-distance missions without GPS or human intervention.

A proposers day will be held Dec. 13 ahead of a planned broad agency announcement. Read the full request for information here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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