Austal, Saildrone announce strategic partnership for autonomous vehicle production

By Nick Wilson / August 30, 2022 at 3:44 PM

Austal USA and Saildrone are entering a strategic partnership to produce autonomous, uncrewed surface vehicles, according to an Austal announcement.

The new partnership will combine Saildrone’s technology with Austal’s manufacturing capabilities to speed up production of the Saildrone Surveyor, an autonomous and uncrewed vehicle used for deep ocean mapping and intelligence as well as surveillance and reconnaissance above and below the surface.

The Surveyor was developed by Saildrone and will be manufactured by Austal in Mobile, AL starting in October 2022.

The press release cites “rapidly growing demand” for this technology as the reason for accelerating production.

“With our lean manufacturing techniques and serial production capabilities, Austal USA will provide large scale fabrication of these vehicles and with our partner Saildrone rapidly get the capability to the Fleet,” said Austal President Rusty Murdaugh in a statement included in the release.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has indicated that unmanned vessels are an important part of his updated Navigation Plan and the Navy’s future fleet. Four USVs participated in this summer’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, completing data-sharing, targeting and weapons tests.