The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded six contracts under its ANGLER programme, the agency announced on 14 November.
ANGLER aims to pioneer the next generation of autonomous underwater robotic systems capable of physical intervention in the deep ocean environment. This class of future unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) must overcome reliance on GPS and human intervention to support infrastructure establishment, maintenance and resilience in the unforgiving oceanic environment. The programme seeks to merge breakthroughs in terrestrial and space robotics, as well as underwater sensing, to develop autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating and surveying ocean depths and physically manipulating man-made objects of interest.
L3Harris Technologies, Leidos and Northrop Grumman will perform in Track A, focused on developing an integrated solution for all challenges in the ANGLER technology and operational areas. EdgeTech, Kitware and SoarTech will perform in Track B, focused on developing solutions specific to the fields of navigation, autonomy, and perception.
The programme is targeting three phases of development, culminating with a fully integrated prototype completing an underwater mission in a dynamic, open ocean environment. The benefits to be derived from the programme, in the agency’s belief, are:
• Establishing functionality for long-duration mission navigation and autonomy while deprived of GPS and surface-based communication;
• Providing a first-of-its-kind long-distance undersea manipulation platform capable of fully autonomous operation;
• Advancing perception systems to enable grasping underwater objects in degraded undersea environments.