United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is building a submarine that will never run out of power. According to a recent report in Forbes, the defence agency has given contracts to a company named Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group to build a demonstration version of the new unmanned underwater vehicle, named Manta Ray.
In order to achieve the indefinite power supply, DARPA has awarded a contract to Metron for the submarine’s energy-harvesting system to power it indefinitely, allowing it to carry out missions lasting months or years without having to return to base or refuel.
According to the Manta Ray website, the project will demonstrate key technologies to enable a class of “long duration, long range, payload-capable” robot submarines, capable of “persistent operations in forward environments.” Reports suggest that the Manta Ray could be able to carry anything from a small towed sonar array for submarine detection, to acoustic sensors for placing on the seabed, to electronic warfare equipment.
This is the second round of funding for Manta Ray after contracts were awarded last year, suggesting that the program is on schedule.
DARPA says that Manta Ray will have AI capabilities to identify and respond to other vessels and submarines, along with other new sensors. The biggest challenge for DARPA, however, will be the power.