DRDO’s au­ton­o­mous un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cle in sea tri­als

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The in­dige­nous au­ton­o­mous un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cle (AUV) un­der de­vel­op­ment by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) is cur­rently in sea tri­als, where it is re­ported to be func­tion­ing close to 100 me­tres be­low the sur­face in the Bay of Ben­gal. The AUV is be­ing built to func­tion at depths close to 300-me­tres. The plat­form is be­ing de­vel­oped in close co­or­di­na­tion with IIT Madras, which sup­plies much of the soft­ware and com­mand al­go­rithm ma­tri­ces that guide the AUV un­der wa­ter.

With the Elec­tron­ics Cor­po­ra­tion In­dia Ltd (ECIL) as an engineering part­ner, DRDO’s Naval Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory (NSTL) in Visakha­p­at­nam is also try­ing to de­velop a vari­ant of the AUV that can con­duct more front­line ac­tiv­ity like mine-lay­ing. The AUV will have pas­sive sonar and elec­tro-op­ti­cal sen­sors. The DRDO AUV will be de­ploy­able and con­trol­lable from shore and ship, de­pend­ing on the mis­sion. In July 2010, the Navy an­nounced its in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing 10 AUVs de­vel­oped and built fully in In­dia. It is keen on flex­i­bil­ity for vari­able pay­loads like high def­i­ni­tion sonars and un­der­wa­ter cam­eras for sur­veil­lance re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties of the sea bed, in­clud­ing oceano­graphic sur­vey and spe­cialised map­ping. With pre­lim­i­nary test­ing near com­ple­tion, the DRDO may ask the gov­ern­ment to con­sider the AUV a ma­jor project, with at­ten­dant fund­ing and bud­getary sup­port.

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