Feeds

DARPA seeks crawling, burrowing river-recce sub bot

Contract inked for rinky-dink ink squirt squidroid

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

US weapons'n'rockets company Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has won a small military contract related to a planned underwater robot. The Unmanned Underwater Riverine Craft (UURC) will carry out "clandestine surveillance tasks in riverine and shallow water environments" using "bottom locomotion (crawling)" mode and "burrowing" abilities.

The ATK contract award for $494,254 was announced yesterday, but details on the UURC project can be found in here.

It would seem that America's enemies had best keep a close eye on their rivers and estuaries, which will soon be literally crawling with partly-submerged lurkerbots:

There is an operational need to carry out clandestine surveillance tasks in riverine and shallow water environments [within] denied, sensitive or contested areas.

For these, a UURC is needed with capabilities to: navigate submerged in rivers, inlets, and harbors as well as in coastal and shallow water areas; provide persistence in these areas and, provide underwater surveillance (against waterborne traffic, underwater obstacles, bottom and buried objects, specific vessels of interest) with onboard and deployable sensors under low visibility conditions.

It won't be simple to catch the mud-crawling bottom-creeper machines: they will twist and turn, burrow into the muck or perhaps even eject an inky cloud like a startled squid. The UURC will:

Be capable of autonomous operation and evasion procedures underwater (maneuver, burrowing, use of obscurants, hibernation mode) ...

The slithering aquadroids will be able to pop up infrared nightsight periscopes, and will of course include sonar and acoustic sensors. They will also, seemingly, feature "new methods of sensing including ... touch" and be able to drop off or otherwise deploy "listening devices, tagging devices and other packages".

Normally such a droid, unable to use conventional engines, would be sharply limited by battery endurance. But the UURC will also have "the ability to regenerate or harvest power for sustained endurance operation or to be able to enter a 'sleep' mode for sustained periods".

One need hardly add that the UURC is being promoted by the famous wingnut-boffins of DARPA, where tomorrow's world is yesterday's news and the only place to keep your brain is in a bubbling jar remotely linked to a huge, powerful robot or brainchipped-gorilla body.

The UURC is to be deployable by "subsurface launch", which could see it setting out to reconnoitre enemy rivers from DARPA's planned flying submarine: or alternatively from relatively humdrum nuclear-powered Stingray-esque submarine motherships crammed with cruise missiles and elite frogman-commando throatcutters.

Or more likely, of course, as with most DARPA projects it will never come into use. But the Pentagon brainiacs have so many wacky projects that now and then one is sure to pay off. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.