The head of ONR, Rear Adm. Mat Winter, told a crowd on the exhibition floor at the Sea-Air-Space Expo that the drone, which the Navy will start acquiring this year, can already operate for up to 30 days, but the goals are much loftier.
“I’m talking power generation, fuel and battery technology, that can approach months and years of underwater domain activity,” Winter said.
But that’s something the Navy is still figuring out. The test platform on display at Sea-Air-Space is being run on a number of types of fuel cells and power generation constructs as they work up extending the underwater time, he said.
Winter said getting the LDUUV’s longevity up — along with keeping it from bumping into underwater obstacles, from submerged mountains to fishing nets — are the goals for the program.
“We’re doing various [test] runs to understand the best configuration, best chemical reaction configuration, and fuel cell technology … ONR scientists are really making some groundbreaking headway on that.”