Leidos demonstrated its unmanned maritime capabilities at the U.S. Navy's Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX 2017). These tests showcased the role military autonomy could play in augmenting the Navy's fleet and expanding missions. The company used R/V Pathfinder, its autonomy test vessel, to autonomously navigate and collect data in an at-sea operational environment. The data was transmitted to multiple base locations using redundant communication paths; a Leidos-developed software defined radio with integrated mobile ad hoc network (MANET) software; and a Kongsberg tactical radio link.
During this exercise, the Leidos Pathfinder vessel, equipped with high-resolution sensors, traversed the waters off of Panama City, FL, in autonomous mode with limited human oversight for safety. The ship surveyed the sea floor and transmitted ocean and meteorological data back to shore at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, RI, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Panama City. In this autonomous navigation mode, the vessel reportedly remained compliant with all International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) requirements based on existing navigation aids and surface contacts, just as a manned vessel would. In addition, Pathfinder conducted a completely autonomous launch and recovery of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating the surface ship survey capability with the ability to perform high-resolution follow-up of features of interest.
"Our participation at ANTX enables us to show our innovative autonomous technology directly to our Navy and government customers," said retired Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, Leidos Vice President and U.S. Navy strategic account executive. "This technology does the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks, keeping our sailors safe, costs down, and reducing risk."
ANTX is a collaborative event where technologists, stakeholders, and warfighters exercise innovations and prototypes at the research and development level before integrating at the operational level.