New Video Shows Military Manta Ray Drone, VR Plays a Role

It was back in April of this year when we took a close-up look at something called the Manta Ray, a DARPA project meant to come up with an underwater drone capable of going places and doing things crewed machines could not. And now we have an update.
VR controllers and headset for the Manta Ray UUV 8 photos
Photo: Northrop Grumman
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At the end of last year, DARPA selected Northrop Grumman and Martin Defense Group to come up with what it calls an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), shaped like the living creatures that swim in the waters of the world.

The goal of the project is to come up with machines that can carry payloads autonomously, in long-duration missions in ocean environments. Until this week, none of the companies involved had something relevant about their projects to show.

That changed after Northrop Grumman released a short video (attached below) with its idea at the center of attention. We are not given all that many details about it, but we do get to see its overall shape, and we even have a small glimpse of how the thing could be controlled.

About halfway through the video, we are treated with a virtual Manta Ray propped up on a screen and a guy wearing a virtual reality headset next to it. The voice-over explains how the company is developing “robust autonomy and vehicle control,” while the glove controllers attached to the guy’s hands give us a glimpse into what that could mean.

As per the DARPA-supplied bits of info, the machine will have to launch from a surface vessel and could use available underwater energy to keep its systems running (there are no exact details as to what that actually means).

The materials used to make the militarized Manta Rays should be capable of protecting them against biofouling, corrosion, and other kinds of degradation.

At the time of writing, there is no info on when we could get a real-world prototype of the Manta Ray.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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