MANTAS USVs Complete Autonomous Missions Through Teamwork
By JAMES PETERSON, Editorial Assistant
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Office of Naval Research hosted a live demonstration of the MANTAS unmanned surface vehicle (USV), running an exhibition swarm drill at its Sea-Air-Space exposition booth April 9.
Carl Conti, technical director for Spatial Integrated Systems, guided the crowd through the demonstration, highlighting how capable these unmanned vehicles can be.
“The humans didn’t tell them to do anything,” Conti said. “They did it by themselves. We just hit go, and it does this all by itself.”
In fact, the only human direction these USVs received were simple route commands, such as going from point A to point B. That point B depends on its mission, but once the ship has that mission, it no longer needs human help. And, unlike other USVs, the MANTASs shown by Conti not only can detect obstacles in its path, but maneuver around them without stopping in order to get to their destination.
“It knows the rules of the road,” Conti said. “It knows how much fuel it has. It knows how far it is. It does all the planning itself.”
During the drill, two MANTAS USVs ran separate routes in a box area, looking for any intruder who entered the box. When an unknown vessel entered, the closest ship scanned it in order to determine if it was friend or foe. If friend, the ship simply tracks it; if foe, the closest ship pursues it.
“I always tell people it’s collaborative,” Conti said. “Well, what is collaborative? The word is ‘co’ ‘labor,’ right? They work together to solve the problem, and that’s what this is about.”
Conti further explained the current USVs are like “Lego building blocks.” They can be crafted and changed to work out a desired outcome.
“You can put them together in different places, and they’ll do different things. Any idea you have, almost.”