DRDO’s autonomous underwater vehicle in sea trials
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.