Massive Autonomous Underwater Drone Inspired By Manta Rays

With over 17 years of writing experience, Jonathan has had a passion for all things tech-related, ever since watching Inspector Gadget as a child. He's disassembled countless appliances and managed to put a few back together, and one still works. When not writing, he can often be found playing video games or accidentally hurting himself in the garage.

In development for the past four years by Northrup Grumman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Manta Ray is a long-range underwater drone that can operate autonomously while delivering payloads, or executing covert military operations. The Manta Ray has a wingspan of 30 feet and can conserve energy by anchoring itself to the seafloor and hibernating in low-power mode while not in active use.

Northrup Grumman and DARPA are currently exploring several different options for the drone to power itself without the need for traditional charging. There’s the possibility of covering its back with solar cells to absorb light energy when the ray is at the water’s surface, but this leaves it vulnerable to detection. DARPA is also currently testing a device that can turn wave energy into electricity, and it’s likely a combination of both technologies will be utilized. I just hope it makes its way into the next James Bond movie.

The entire drone is modular and can be shipped in five regular-size shipping containers and assembled on-site for use anywhere in the world—but probably somewhere with a lot of water. And I’m not talking about my bathtub, either. I can barely stretch my legs out in there; there definitely isn’t room for a 30-foot drone. Rubber duckies, yes.

[via BoingBoing]

Journalist at Technabob | Website | + posts

With over 17 years of writing experience, Jonathan has had a passion for all things tech-related, ever since watching Inspector Gadget as a child. He's disassembled countless appliances and managed to put a few back together, and one still works. When not writing, he can often be found playing video games or accidentally hurting himself in the garage.