U.S. christens DARPA’s unmanned Sea Hunter ship

Sea Hunter
Photo: DARPA

The U.S. Navy has officially christened the new unmanned submarine-hunting drone named Sea Hunter during an April 7 ceremony in Portland, Oregon.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which was in charge of developing the vessel recently shared a video of the vessel conducting speed and maneuverability trials. you can watch the video here.

ACTUV, as the program in charge of developing the Sea Hunter is named, is a 130-foot twin-screw trimaran. It has a number of unusual features because it does not need to accommodate people. For example, interior spaces are accessible for maintenance but aren’t designed to support a permanent crew.

According to DARPA, at-sea testing on a surrogate vessel, ACTUV’s autonomy suite has proven capable of operating the ship in compliance with maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation—including International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or COLREGS.

ACTUV accomplishes this feat through advanced software and hardware that serve as automated lookouts, enabling the ship to operate safely near manned maritime vessels in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night.

In September 2014, DARPA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Office of Naval Research to jointly fund an extended test phase of an ACTUV prototype.

DARPA will collaborate with ONR to fully test the capabilities of the vessel and several innovative payloads during open-water testing scheduled to begin this summer off the California coast after preliminary checkout and movement to San Diego.

Pending the results of those tests, the program could transition to the U.S. Navy by 2018.

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