Hull inspection robot goes forward

March 31, 2011 at 11:01 AM

QUINCY, Mass., March 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy wants an autonomous underwater vehicle to search ship hulls for mines and improvised explosive devices and neutralize the bombs.

Bluefin Robotics, a Massachusetts designer and manufacturer of AUVs that has been working on such a system for the Navy since 2002, said it has received a $30 million contract modification exercising the production option for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System.

The award came from the Office of Naval Research for the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal program.

"We are looking forward to the opportunity to leverage the work done on the HAUV and under our other underwater systems programs for this important U.S. Navy requirement," said David. P. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Bluefin Robotics.

The HUAN variant to be produced, HUAN-N, features a manipulator arm integrated onto the HAUV.

With the arm and video camera, a remote operator can identity and neutralize the device without the need to put divers in harm's way.

Bluefin said its partners on the project are Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Orca Maritime of San Diego.

Additional details of the award and program weren't disclosed.

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