Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR SEP 2014 Contents 19
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 02 | SEP 2014
Virginia-based Leidos (formerly Science Applications
International Corporation) has commenced construction
of the first robotic autonomous vessel designed to detect,
localise, track and classify diesel-electric submarines.
Under Phase 3 of the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program,
construction is scheduled to take 15 months, with launch
on the Columbia River set for 2015. This will be followed by
vessel testing and operational prototype at-sea trials (Phase
4) from mid-2015 onwards.
ACTUV seeks to demonstrate the capability of an
unmanned vessel to employ its non-conventional sensor
technologies to achieve robust continuous tracking of the
quietest diesel-electric submarines over their entire operating
envelope for months at a time across thousands of kilometres
of ocean under a sparse supervisory model.
The requirement for ACTUV is driven by the proliferation of
extremely quiet diesel-electric submarines around the world
– a trend which shows no sign of abating. Even small second-
tier navies, particularly in Southeast Asia, are commissioning
modest fleets of latest-generation diesel-electric submarines,
many of which are adept at both blue water and shallow
water/littoral operations – waters from which US amphibious
task groups could be expected to conduct operations.
If the technology demonstration program is successful
and production versions commissioned, it is predicted that
ACTUV will be a strategic game-changer for the US Navy,
creating an asymmetric advantage in negating the threat
posed by diesel-electric submarines.
In addition to robust operating autonomy that complies with
international maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation,
autonomous system management for operational reliability
and autonomous interactions with an intelligent adversary, key
ACTUV technology includes advanced software, navigation
and piloting sensors, electro-optical imagers, long and short-
range radar, LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and mid and
high-frequency active-passive sonar.
ACTUV’s trimaran hullform is built out of carbon-fibre
composites and designed for effective operations to Sea
State 5 and survivable in conditions up to Sea State 7.
Operational endurance is understood to be around 90 days.
Whilst the program is currently focused on the development
of ASW capabilities, the ACTUV’s modular design, according
to Leidos, allows it to not only carry out ASW operations, but
to be refitted for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
– Mario Attopardi
The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development
and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin
have successfully demonstrated the autonomy-enabled
vehicle concept under the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué
System (AMAS) program in South Carolina during late May.
Seven military trucks traveling at speeds up to 64km/h
(40mph) were the focal point of the driverless convoy
demonstration under the AMAS Capabilities Advancement
Demonstration II (CAD II). The demonstration replicated a
high-speed long-haul logistics resupply mission on the
The CAD II activities built upon the capabilities
demonstrated at Fort Hood, Texas, in January 2014, where
three unmanned military trucks negotiated oncoming traffic,
followed rules of the road, recognised pedestrians and
avoided various obstacles at speeds up to 40km/h (25mph)
in an urban environment.
The AMAS CAD II demonstration focused on pushing the
convoy-like scenario with increased speed and additional
AMAS is a Joint Capability Technology Demonstrator
program between the US Army and the US Marine Corps
with the goal of standardising the AMAS kits across both
organisations and giving the warfighter the ability to transform
standard transport and support vehicles into unmanned
vehicles on an as-required basis.
Aimed at countering the improvised explosive device
(IED) threat in particular, the AMAS kit technology enables
an unmanned lead vehicle or entire convoy to be sent down
dangerous supply routes where a known or suspected IED
threat exists without exposing personnel to the threat.
“If we can give the warfighter this capability...we can save
lives,” stated Dr. Greg Hudas, TARDEC Ground Vehicle
Robotics Chief Engineer.
The Lockheed Martin AMAS common appliqué kit consists
of the bi-wire active safety kit and the autonomy kit able to
perform the driving functions of the vehicle. The technology
uses GPS, light detection and ranging radar, automotive
radar and commercially available automotive sensors and
vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems to reduce cost
and technical risk.
TARDEC is working closely with the U.S. Army Training
and Doctrine Command, military users, and the acquisition
community to advance the development of autonomous
appliqué systems for tactical vehicles and make these
capabilities available by 2020.
In April this year TARDEC demonstrated tele-operation and
waypoint navigation on an RG-31 4x4 route-clearance vehicle
fitted with a Self-Protection Adaptive Roller Kit II track-width
front roller attachment.
– Matthew Mendenhall
Construction begins on
DARPA sub hunter
Autobot convoy in
POTENTIAL GAME-CHANGER, SAYS DARPA
If successful, ACTUV would create a technological strategic
advantage against the burgeoning quiet submarine threat and
reduce manpower and other costs associated with current ASW trail
“Our goal is to transition an operational game-changer to the Navy,”
said ACTUV program manager Scott Littlefield in 2012. “This should
create an asymmetry to our advantage, negating a challenging
submarine threat at one-tenth the cost of building subs. The program
also establishes foundational technologies for future unmanned
With ACTUV, DARPA will explore the performance potential of a
surface platform conceived from concept to field demonstration
under the premise that a human is never intended to step aboard at
any point in its operating cycle. As a result, a new design paradigm
emerges with reduced constraints on conventional naval architecture
elements such as layout, accessibility, crew support systems and
The objective is to generate a vessel design that exceeds state-
of-the art platform performance to provide propulsive overmatch
against diesel-electric submarines at a fraction of their size and cost.
Artist’s impression of the ACTUV
submarine tracking demonstrator
currently under construction.
detection system on way
for US Army
The US Army Research Laboratory has awarded a
US$9.7 million contract to Logos Technologies to further
develop and deploy a camera-based hostile fire detection and
The company’s Optical Gunfire, Rockets and Explosive
Flash Detection (OGRE) system uses high-speed cameras to
capture the visual signature of a fired weapon or detonation
and provide precise source co-ordinates to ground troops.
Detection of flash events such as rocket mortar launches is
also expected to be well suited to the protection of forward
OGRE is to be coupled to an existing acoustic sensor
developed by the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research,
Development and Engineering centre. The combined
OGRE-acoustic unit, called Serenity, creates a dual threat
validation process that significantly reduces false positive
identifications. The system works in combination with full-
motion video and wide-area surveillance sensors to locate
and identify the locations of hostile fire.
The integration of visual and acoustic technology
dramatically increases the detection range and accuracy in
comparison to existing hostile fire detection systems. The
Serenity system will be integrated with Logos Technologies’
aerostat-based Kestrel sensor system, allowing operators to
not only see attacks as they happen, but also access digital
video recorder-like forensic playback when necessary.
IF WE CAN GIVE THE WARFIGHTER
THIS CAPABILITY... WE CAN SAVE LIVES
Dr. Greg Hudas, TARDEC Ground Vehicle Robotics Chief Engineer.
The seven-vehicle driverless truck convoy deploys along a
simulated resupply route during demonstrations in late May.
Image: US Army
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