Navy asks Metron to develop advanced modular payloads for unmanned undersea vehicles

July 1, 2018
Machine autonomy experts at Metron Inc. in Reston, Va., are developing advanced modular payloads for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) under terms of an $8 million contract.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Machine autonomy experts at Metron Inc. in Reston, Va., are developing advanced modular payloads for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) under terms of an $8 million contract.

Officials of the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., are asking Metron UUV experts to undertake this research as part of a 2017 long-range broad agency announcement for Navy and Marine Corps science and technology research. This contract to Metron has options that could increase its value to $21.1 million.

The ONR solicitation that pertains to this contract to Metron encompasses technology research in expeditionary maneuver warfare and combating terrorism; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR); ocean battlespace sensing; sea warfare and weapons; warfighter performance; naval air warfare and weapons.

Metron Inc. id developing experimental modular payloads for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) for the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Metron has years of experience in machine autonomy to enable long-endurance UUVs to operate autonomously in many different kinds of challenging ocean environments.

In late 2015 ONR awarded a $29.8 million contract to Metron to develop machine intelligence for future generations of U.S. Navy UUVs for a wide variety of applications like long-range surveillance.

In this project Metron produced software for advanced UUV autonomy that runs on government-provided hardware to demonstrate emerging machine autonomy capabilities in several different kinds of military missions.

The company also is involved in developing autonomy software for the ONR Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) project, which includes autonomy for the LDUUV involves autonomy software, computer hardware, and sensors.

In 2013 Metron won a $7.3 million ONR contract for in-lab integration and testing of autonomy and mission planning software with bench test hardware selected for deployment on the LDUUV.

Metron developed autonomy software to enable the future LDUUV to avoid all vessels in its area of operations, including fishing boats. Company experts tackled autonomy challenges such as detecting and avoiding undersea stationary and moving obstacles, as well as path planning algorithms to minimize energy consumption while avoiding obstacles.

Metron has dealt with detecting, locating, and identifying surface vessels; determining the intent of detected surface vessels; and detecting and avoiding all kinds of fishing nets and fishing gear, including mono-filament and twine nets which are difficult to detect.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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