Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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U.S. Navy Finishes Testing Robotic Spy Fish

The GhostSwimmer robot is designed to stealthily gather surveillance data. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III.
The GhostSwimmer robot is shown here with its tether attached, so that it can be operated via laptop. The bot can also swim autonomously, at depths of up to 300 feet. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III.

An unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) disguised as a fish could help the U.S. Navy keep our waters safe. Known as GhostSwimmer, the bot can operate autonomously or, when being stealthy isn’t a priority, it can be controlled by a laptop on a 500-foot tether.

“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 swims just like a fish does by oscillating its tail fin back and forth.”

The bot was made as a part of Silent Nemo: a Navy project exploring the possibilities for biomimetic UUVs. One of many bots to be tested as a part of this program, this robo-tuna is quiet but big, at about 5-feet long and weighing almost 100 pounds. It can currently operate at depths of up to 300 feet below the surface.

In December, the Navy completed a series of tests with the bot, gathering data on tides, currents, wakes, and weather conditions. Ultimately, the robots made as a part of Silent Nemo could prove useful for hull inspections and low visibility intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

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