Oceaneering International demos autonomous underwater vehicle for Navy, DIU

By Georgina DiNardo / April 4, 2024 at 3:56 PM

Oceaneering International announced today the completion of a successful one-week autonomous underwater vehicle demonstration for the Navy and the Defense Innovation Unit, completing the first phase of a prototype agreement.

The demonstration included showcasing Oceaneering’s design, engineering and operating capabilities pertaining to the Freedom Autonomous Undersea Vehicle, which was selected by the Navy and DIU for evaluation with potential future use in the Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicles fleet the U.S. military is working on.

In February, the Navy and DIU announced they had awarded prototype agreements to Oceaneering, Kongsberg Discovery and Anduril Industries to assist with unmanned underwater vehicle platform prototyping and development.

Kongsberg and Anduril have not reported any official demonstrations yet.

DIU Navy lead Capt. Alex Campbell told Inside Defense in February that the prototyping agreements all contain milestones that began “with a series of in-water demonstration events of existing capabilities against government requirements.”

“The demonstration included several days of at-sea testing where Oceaneering successfully demonstrated many of the autonomous capabilities of the Freedom AUV, including undocking, docking, obstacle avoidance, precision payload placement, survey and transit,” Oceaneering’s press release said today.

This demonstration is the first phase of the contract Oceaneering signed with the Navy and DIU.

“Phase two, if executed, will contain prototype development tasks,” Oceaneering said.

Oceaneering said that the demonstration was an “important milestone” for maritime defense.

“Ultimately, advanced UUVs will supplement submarine fleets by conducting autonomous sensing and delivering payloads in challenging, dispersed, deep-sea environments,” Oceaneering said. “These events serve as critical baseline assessments to understand capability gaps and inform future development priorities.”

Oceaneering’s Subsea Robotics segment held the test at its subsea autonomy testing facility in Norway, where Peter Buchanan, senior director for the Subsea Robotics segment, said there were unpredictable weather conditions that helped display Freedom AUV’s ability in “tackling complex challenges.”

“It has been an extraordinary experience spending this week with the U.S. Navy and DIU showcasing the exceptional capabilities of our Freedom AUV unit,” Buchanan said. “Our collaborative sessions have been instrumental in highlighting the unit's proven capabilities, efficient data recovery, amazing vehicle control and autonomy, precise mission planning and effective troubleshooting strategies.”