DARPA's Manta Ray program tested a scaled-down model of the underwater drone made by PacMar Technologies to check its sensors, how well it moves in water, and if it can perform tasks on its own.
The tests were conducted in the waters off Oahu, Hawaii, DARPA announced today. In the initial in-water tests, DARPA checked how the vehicle's control surfaces move, turned on its thrusters, and measured how well it floats.
The goal of Manta Ray program is to create a new kind of underwater vehicle that can operate for a long time and cover large distances without human control.
“Splashing a vehicle is a major milestone for an undersea program,” said Dr. Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray program manager at DARPA. “This test provides important insights into key systems, allows us to validate assumptions and models, and gives us valuable data in preparation for our upcoming full-scale at-sea demonstrations. We are a critical step closer to realizing the program’s objectives for a new class of long-endurance autonomous underwater vehicle.”
PacMar Technologies and Northrop Grumman are the two companies working on the Manta Ray program in Phase 2. Northrop Grumman plans to test its prototype in 2024.