Bluefin SandShark Joins General Dynamics’ Family of AUVs
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — General Dynamics Mission Systems announced Jan. 11 that its new Bluefin SandShark autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) can now be ordered by defense, commercial and scientific customers worldwide.
Weighing less than 11 pounds before adding a mission payload, the ‘micro’ AUV fits in a backpack, can swim up to five knots and dive down to 200 meters (656 feet). The tail section of the Bluefin SandShark houses the battery and system electronics and is designed to leave most of the vehicle open for the user to customize with sensors and other mission critical payloads. The Bluefin SandShark joins the company’s Bluefin Robotics family of autonomous underwater products.
“Compared to other small AUVs, the Bluefin SandShark offers customers the most flexibility and diverse mission capabilities at a very affordable cost,” said Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of Maritime and Strategic Systems for General Dynamics Mission Systems. “Depending on how it is configured, the Bluefin SandShark AUV can provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information for defense or harbor security missions, dive down to survey submerged structures or become a floating communications network node at sea.”
The Bluefin SandShark’s operating software is compatible with most underwater vehicle autonomy suites, the software languages AUV operators use to talk to the vehicle and program its mission instructions. This operating flexibility makes integration with existing underwater vehicle components and systems faster and more cost-effective.
Changing, adding and reconfiguring the payload section can be performed quickly, without specialized tools. This capability allows Bluefin SandShark users to efficiently and cost-effectively create and test small, low-power sensors and other capabilities needed for underwater tasks. The Bluefin SandShark payload section can be dry or free-flooded, based on the users’ needs.