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Warfare Center To Host Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle Fest 2007
File image of the Skunkworks tailless UAV.
File image of the Skunkworks tailless UAV.
By Dan Broadstreet
Panama City FL (AFNS) Dec 21, 2006
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (NSWC PC) is busy preparing to host the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Performance Demonstration, called AUV Fest, June 4-16, 2007. The AUV Fest will expose developing capabilities of unmanned vehicles (UVs) to the operational Navy, UV research community, and industry.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsors the AUV Fest events about every 18 months. These events started in 1997, and this will be the first time it will be hosted in Panama City.

Bringing together vehicles and their research teams from around the world, the AUV Fest provides a venue for demonstrating emerging technologies in a common, at-sea environment.

"Operating from the Joint Gulf Test Range will allow us to simultaneously demonstrate and characterize the performance of candidate systems," said NSWC PC's AUV Fest 2007 Coordinator, Phil Bernstein, adding that this will be the largest in-water unmanned systems demonstration ever conducted in the world.

Bernstein said the center of operations will be conducted from NSWC PC's Littoral Warfare Research Facility, but would also involve coordination with multiple facilities located throughout Naval Support Acitivity Panama City.

"There will be a total of 14 operational areas in St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico involved while deploying and testing Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs)," Bernstein said, adding that AUV Fest 2007 will be the largest simultaneous system test ever conducted at NSWC PC.

Objectively, developing unmanned systems will help remove the man from the minefield, according to Bernstein. He said that with the Navy using multiple UUVs, USVs, UGVs, and UAVs, the time required for hunting and sweeping for sub-surface mines could be shrunk exponentially.

"Shrinking the timeline when conducting mine countermeasures allows us to move our forces wherever they need to go, and to do so whenever the need arises," said Steve Castelin, Unmanned Systems customer advocate for the Littoral Warfare Product Area. "Developing this capability is critical in order to enable our forces assured access to foreign shores with minimum risks from mines."

Bernstein said another objective of AUV Fest 2007 will be to study challenges of deploying multiple unmanned systems simultaneously.

"Interoperability is another important future Navy objective," Bernstein said, explaining that how well the different unmanned systems function with one another was important.

"For example, cooperative behavior is a functionality where UVs will communicate either electronically or acoustically to inform other UVs whether or not a mine-like target has been detected," he said.

According to Bernstein, it is at this point that another UV would be programmed to respond in order to verify whether the target is actually a mine or not.

"This AUV Fest is expected to draw more than 100 teams from government, industry, academia, and foreign military bringing in excess of 80 unmanned vehicles equipped with a variety of sensor packages," Bernstein said.

Related Links
US Navy
UAV Technology at SpaceWar.com

Northrop Grumman Lifts US Navy To New Era For Unmanned Flight
San Diego CA (SPX) Dec 21, 2006
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed the first series of flights of the enhanced, more capable version of the Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV), the MQ-8B. "This is a very significant milestone in the execution of the system development and demonstration program, which is under contract for nine unmanned helicopters," said Captain Paul Morgan, the Navy's UAS program manager.







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