Updated Sep 15, 2015 at 5:29 PM NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY — Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division is working with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and now they’re getting a chance to demonstrate AUV capabilities.
PAX River 2015 is a two-week event underway at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, which has brought together 150 participants, 26 technology teams and six countries. Since 1997, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has hosted eight AUV Fests and Science and Technology Demonstrations (S&T Demos) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City.
This is the first UAV demonstration ONR has hosted at the Maryland base, also known as Pax River. AUVs, which can be preprogrammed, can lessen danger for divers during missions. For instance, an AUV can go into a potential underwater minefield and gather data on whether the area is dangerous, instead of a person or ship doing so. After surveying the mission area, the diver can then neutralize the area or know to avoid it. Thomas Dill, who is part of the fleet liaison of the Warfare Center Panama City Division, said AUV technology can supply reams of information before a diver is deployed.
PAX River 2015 demonstration manager Robert Gibson, who recently visited the Warfare Center Panama City Division, said the event is evaluating the future direction of AUV technology, drawing together academia, industry and government to witness the technology, he said. “Our systems are very accurate and very good,” Gibson said. “Through the display of various emerging AUV-related technologies, the objective of the demonstration is to increase effectiveness in mine-hunting exercises, ordnance surveys, maritime archeology and infrastructure inspection, such as bridges, shorelines or sea walls.”
Also at Pax River are Cheryl Mierzwa and Amanda Bobe, project engineers for the National Unmanned Systems Shared Resource Center (NUSSRC). Bobe said she was excited to show what the Navy has to offer. Mierzwa said they were pre-testing the vehicles before they headed off to Maryland.
“I think it will go … swimmingly,” Mierzwa said prior to leaving Pax River. “There’s a lot of experienced people that have done this before.”
Dill said he has not used AUVs operationally but has been an “end user” who gives real-time feedback on them. AUVs are more exact than bringing along a device while diving and have a higher guarantee of fully covering an area, Dill said.
“We’ll be able to get data a lot faster,” Dill said. “It’s really speed.”
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