RAN begins tests of UUVs for mine warfare

Photo: RAN/Able Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has begun experimenting with deploying unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to undertake mine warfare missions.

The mine countermeasures (MCM) optimised UUVs have been equipped with locally developed software that processes sonar imagery automatically detecting any objects of interest.

Dr Phil Chapple, a scientist with the Australian Department of Defence (DOD), said that the UUVs will go backwards and forwards to cover an area of seabed and provide images of all of the seabed. The images will then be sent back for later analysis by an operator.

Dr Chapple adds that autonomous technology will be configured in such a way that a UUV could pause its predetermined search pattern to take a closer look at objects of interest that have been detected and capture images from different angles to help in identification.

The UUV may then return to the surface and alert the operator of what it has found and await instructions.

Although capable of fully autonomous sailing, the MCM UUVs are expected to be deployed as part of a team that also includes human operators instead of being used on their own.

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