DARPA Awards Contracts for Manta Ray Program

Manta Ray Program

Published Mar 18, 2020 9:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

Four companies have been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work on a demonstration project a new class of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

DARPA’s Manta Ray Program is focused the development of long duration, long range, payload-capable UUVs. The organization has selected three companies to focus on development of an integrated solution for Manta Ray technology:

•  Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories
•  Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation
•  Navatek, LLC

A fourth company, Metron, Inc., will work toward technology for undersea energy harvesting techniques at depths necessary for successful operations.

The Manta Ray program plans to advance key technologies that will benefit future UUV designs, including new energy management and energy harvesting techniques; low-power, high-efficiency propulsion; and new approaches to mitigate biofouling, corrosion, and other material degradation for long duration missions. 

The program also seeks process improvements, including mission management approaches for extended periods while accounting for dynamic maritime environments; unique methods for leveraging existing maritime datasets and new maritime parameters for high-efficiency navigation; and new low-power means of underwater detection and classification of hazards.

Manta Ray is targeting three phases of development, culminating with a fully integrated demonstration vehicle completing an underwater mission in a dynamic, open-ocean environment.

“The Manta Ray program aims to increase at-sea operational capacity and capabilities for the combatant commander while minimizing disruptions to current operations by remaining independent of crewed vessels and ports once deployed,” said CDR Kyle Woerner, the Manta Ray program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “If successful, this new class of UUVs would allow operational flexibility and relief of workload for both traditional host ships and servicing ports.”