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Robot sub navigation system completes first voyage

A prototype autonomous navigation system for robot subs has completed its first self-guided voyage.

A 42-foot surface work boat sailed autonomously between Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, according to Leidos, which makes the navigation system. The system is designed for DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV).

"Controlled only by the autonomy system, and with only a navigational chart of the area loaded into its memory and inputs from its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) radars, the surrogate vessel successfully sailed the complicated inshore environment of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway," Leidos said. "During its voyage of 35 nautical miles, the maritime autonomy system functioned as designed. The boat avoided all obstacles, buoys, land, shoal water, and other vessels in the area – all without any preplanned waypoints or human intervention."

Leidos is continuing construction of Sea Hunter, the first ACTUV prototype vessel, in Clackamas, Oregon. It is scheduled to launch in late fall 2015.

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