LAKEHURST, N.J. - U.S. Navy unman-ned underwater vehicle (UUV) experts needed a special buoy to house and control surveillance UUVs designed to determine the depth and underwater topography of rivers and inland waters. They found their solution from Hydronalix Inc. in Green Valley, Ariz.
The U.S. Navy is developing special buoys to house, control, and distribute information from unmanned submersibles exploring rivers and streams.
Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, N.J., have announced plans to award an advanced research contract to Hydronalix to develop prototype mobile gateway buoys with integrated communications and control software. The amount of the upcoming contract was not disclosed.
These gateway buoys will be part of a Navy research project called Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for Sustained Riverine and Littoral Assessments, which is developing covert UUVs to explore rivers, harbors, and coastal waters for military surveillance. A gateway buoy works together with a UUV operator to track, monitor, command, and interact with the UUV remotely while the unmanned submersible is underway. It helps maintain communications with the UUV, and share information with military forces who need it.
Hydronalix engineers will build an improved gateway buoy hull with hybrid electric and heavy-fuel propulsion, integrated with MK 18 gateway buoy communications equipment, and controlled by Neptune control software. The company will build two gateway buoy prototypes, and integrate them with control software and acoustic communication systems. Engineers will design the buoy to accept new communications technologies as they become available into a common modular buoy payload bay.
The AUV for Sustained Riverine and Littoral Assessments project is developing covert UUVs able to conduct surveys along rivers and streams while navigating under the vegetation canopy, causing the UUV's onboard global positioning system (GPS) to operate only intermittently.
Since 2010, this project has involved Hydronalix, as well as Ocean Server Technology Inc. in Fall River, Mass.; SeaLandAire Technologies Inc. in Jackson, Mich.; and FarCo Technologies Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The project's first phase focused on developing UUV sensors, navigation, propulsion, control, hull, algorithms, and integrated system design. The second phase developed a demonstration prototype UUV, and the third phase is developing an acquisition-ready river surveillance UUV.
Now Hydronalix will develop a gateway buoy to house and control the UUV, as well as distribute UUV information. Future contract options may involve situational awareness sensor integration; vertical acoustic communication system integration; expendable data exfiltration embedded relay radio integration; and high-frequency ground wave radio integration.