The CTO of Technion has highlighted the need for technological advances in the autonomy of unmanned marine vehicles to counteract the communications challenge of underwater operations.
Oren Gal told the Undersea Defence Technology conference in Alicante, Spain on 31 May that the institute was trying all the time to get the autonomous capability higher so there is less reliability on communications.
'Take the man out of the loop and you take the communications out. That is one of the main drivers to take autonomy forward. If you get a long-end mission autonomy is important. We'd like to go to full-mission autonomy but that is not very simple,’ Gal said.
He referred to the merit of 'multi-agent missions' that use USVs, AUVs and UAVs together to carry out a maritime security mission, but noted: 'We must remember that we have very little communications between the agents, especially underwater. You must have very high automation for that capability.'
Technion is working on developing computation flow algorithms, so that one of the multiple systems can 'take the action and update all his friends in the group in parallel'.
He highlighted other problem areas with the development of maritime systems, and said that a complete hull overhaul is required because at present manned systems are simply modified to fit the requirement. With regards to all unmanned systems Gal said: 'The technologies are really generic, although the maritime environment is very different.
'Tracking and computation in real time is difficult, and trying to evaluate the target is a challenge. They also have a very limited energy; also lots of disturbances like the waves. We're trying all of the time to detect and track but it's not that simple. First of all we need to learn the sea pattern.'
He explained that COTS technology is ideal because 'we don't have to think about it if it's destroyed', so pushed for technology that is not unique or expensive.
'Energy is not just energy, it has a relation to efficiency,' he continued. 'There are lots of variables you have to take into account. Battery cells are not the only option – there are amphibious, natural capabilities out there too.
'The surface and underwater is becoming much more relevant,' he concluded.