Quincy, Mass., 3 Aug. 2012. Bluefin Robotics, a provider of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for U.S. Navy programs, has announced that the HAUV-3, a hovering underwater robot, has completed government acceptance testing as the production system for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) hull unmanned underwater vehicle localization systems (HULS). The HAUV-3 can autonomously perform ship hull inspection and obtain 100% sonar coverage-a task that is typically performed by divers to secure ports and harbors.
The week prior to the formal government acceptance testing, Bluefin provided training to fleet personnel. Trainees operated the HAUV-3 in several in-water operational scenarios as part of the formal testing. The system demonstrated greater operational speeds and almost twice as much endurance as its predecessor-the prototype HAUV-2. In addition to its standard DIDSON imaging sonar, it is equipped with a camera, which provides supplemental visual information to divers tasked with re-locating contacts.
The Navy also conducted a series of environmental tests consisting of freezing, shaking, and baking one of the vehicles and its support equipment. Testing showed specific areas for ruggedization in order to optimize the system for harsh conditions. After the tests were complete, operators were able to power up all of the vehicle subsystems.
In 2011, Bluefin Robotics was awarded a contract modification from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head to move the system design into production. Since then, Bluefin has delivered one system, which constitutes two vehicles and support equipment. Two additional systems are currently in production as well.