GhostSwimmer vehicle. U.S. Navy photo by Edward Guttierrez III.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has been testing a GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS).
The tests were finished on Dec. 11, and more tests are planned for the future. They refer to it as a "science-fiction-turned-reality" project in a statement. It's part of Silent NEMO, a project aimed at examining the possible uses of underwater drones.
In recent weeks, the device has been gathering data on tides, wakes, currents and weather conditions.
"GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe," said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering's Advanced Systems Group.
It was made to resemble a large fish, they say, and it has a length of roughly 5 feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds. It can dive down to at least 300 feet below sea level.
"It swims just like a fish does by oscillating its tail fin back and forth," said Rufo. "The unit is a combination of unmanned systems engineering and unique propulsion and control capabilities."
The appearance and movement could help prevent it from being detected.
The drone is equipped with a long-lasting battery and can be controlled from a laptop.
"We want to see projects like this replicated throughout the fleet," said Capt. Jim Loper, the department head for Concepts and Innovation at the Navy Warfare Development Command. "The fusion of the deckplate brainpower with support of the most senior leadership in the Navy is going to keep us moving forward throughout the 21st century."