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iRobot Corporation Message Board

  • b_radford10 b_radford10 Feb 12, 2012 2:57 PM Flag

    The Coming Need for Counter-UUV Technology

    The Coming Need for Counter-UUV Technology

    Interesting article by one of iRobot's Lead Research Scientists in the Naval Postgraduate School's CRUSER (Robotics/Unmanned Systems) December 2011 newsletter (Scroll down to page 3):

    "UUVs with glider technology can be launched from long standoff distances, use little power during transit, and have the capability to place themselves on the bottom in areas of interest, perhaps waiting for particular vessels to pass over and in effect becoming intelligent, self-deploying mines. Additionally, pipeline detection and following capabilities have been developed for UUVs and could be used for offensive purposes........Given this possibility, work should be started to develop the capability to detect and counter adversarial UUVs......leading to the type of robot-on-robot warfare that is also likely to develop in the ground and air spaces."

    At ~$100k each, seagliders make for cheap asymmetric naval weapons.

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    • B-rad,

      Colin has repeatedly stated that the autonomous weaponisation of IRobot platforms is not a company objective. Don Eickstedt's piece (his own view only) is carefully worded to imply that others may use this technology against the US, and hence counter measures should be developed.

      While he sees autonomous robot-on-robot engagement, he does not indicate killing manned targets as the reason for deployment. Laying of mines in contested waters would be fairly pointless if the mine has to come to the surface to check with the man-in-the-loop before detonating!

      The Seaglider clearly has a role as a persistant recon asset. It can provide detailed samples of salinity and temperature(thermoclines)in areas of interest to Naval Operations. It could provide some passive sonar net augmentation, but the slow transit speed and need to return to the surface to transmit (via Iridium SatNet) precludes a time-sensitive active role (ie fixing a passing warship or sub).

      Examine the facts: the Seaglider is 12inches in diameter and weighs 52kg and moves at 0.5Kt. Even a small conventional torpedo, the Mk46, at 12.75inches, weighs 508lbs has a bulk warhead of approx 97lbs and at 40kts can reach out to 11-12 miles. Furthermore by mentioning 21inch weapons Don is obliquely refering to the Mk48 ADCAP torpedo, a one-shot ship-killer. This torpedo weighs in at 3695lbs with 650lbs warhead and can run down its quarry at 55kts. There is nothing asymmetric about either mines or torpedoes, nor cheap, the ADCAP is about 3.5m USD a pop. Sure Seaglider is 100kUSD, but there is no meaningful comparison between the two.

      It is also highly likely that those nations who wish to curtail present or future USN operations in both littoral and blue waters, are busy developing counter-measures (CM) against UUV and UGVs just as they are against UAVs. The real game may be keeping one jump ahead of their CM developments. Just the same as it is in IED/EOD work.

      That said any new R&D contracts would be nice after last weeks disappointments!


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