Bluefin Robotics, a leading provider of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) solutions for US Navy Programs of Record announced today that the HAUV-3, a hovering underwater robot, has completed government acceptance testing as the production system for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) hull unmanned underwater vehicle localisation systems (HULS).
The HAUV-3 is designed to autonomously perform ship hull inspection and obtain 100% sonar coverage - a demanding task typically performed by divers to secure ports and harbours.
The week prior to the formal government acceptance testing, Bluefin provided training to fleet personnel. Trainees then operated the HAUV-3 in several in-water operational scenarios as part of the formal testing. The system demonstrated increased operational speeds and nearly twice as much endurance as its predecessor, the prototype HAUV-2. In addition to its standard DIDSON imaging sonar, it is equipped with a camera, which provides vital supplemental visual information to divers tasked with re-locating contacts.
The Navy also conducted a series of environmental tests consisting of freezing, shaking, and baking one of the vehicles and its support equipment, testing highlighted specific areas for ruggedisation in order to optimise the system for very harsh conditions. However, even after the tortuous testing, operators were able to power up all of the vehicle subsystems successfully.
In 2011, Bluefin Robotics was awarded a contract modification from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head, to move the system design into production. Since then, Bluefin has delivered one system, which constitutes two vehicles and support equipment. An additional two systems are in production now.