N221-039 TITLE: Flexible Unmanned Vehicle Stowage System
OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: Autonomy
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground / Sea Vehicles
OBJECTIVE: Develop a flexible, common stowage system for Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) onboard surface ships.
DESCRIPTION: Current UUVs are provided with their own stowage and handling cradles, which require unique stowage space, material handling equipment and slings, and tie downs for securing to decks and bulkheads. There is no dedicated, common handling and stowage system for small or medium UUVs. A common, flexible handling and stowage system, that can accommodate different UUV configurations, can optimize the use of shipboard space, minimize development costs, and standardize operations. In Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles: In "Navy Seeking New Technology For Unmanned Boats, Subs," an article in in the October 18, 2019 National Defense Magazine [Ref 2], it was stated that Navy and DOD leaders believe that shifting to a more distributed fleet, to include Unmanned Systems, is operationally necessary, technically feasible, and affordable. No known commercial solution exists.
Unmanned vehicles of interest will generally be smaller than 20 feet in length, less than 2 feet in diameter and less than 2500 pounds. Available space reservations where the UUV stowage system might reside on LPD 17 Class should be constrained to upper vehicle deck areas and other locations accessible by ships elevator transport.
Stowage system must be capable of being prototyped for use with small and medium UUVs. System must be capable of meeting shipboard stowage requirements (sea state, tie downs, etc.) and interface with existing auxiliary systems which perform launch, recovery, refueling, recharging, rearming, and limited maintenance and repair.
The prototype will first be evaluated on land at the companyís facility to determine the systemís capability to meet performance goals defined in the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW). If Phase II testing is deemed successful, the project will move to at-sea testing on-board an LPD 17 Class ship. The at-sea testing will consist of maneuvering a UxV from the well deck area into stowage, securing for sea, and then unloading and maneuvering back to the well deck area.
PHASE I: Define and develop a concept for flexible stowage for Unmanned Systems that can be utilized on an LPD 17 Class of ship. Demonstrate feasibility of design through modelling and draft concept of operations. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.
PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I efforts and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver a prototype flexible handling and stowage system for UUVs for use on LPD 17 Class of ship. The prototype will first be evaluated on land at the companyís facility to determine the systemís capability to meet performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW. If Phase II testing is deemed successful, the project will move to at-sea testing on-board an LPD 17 Class of ship. The at-sea testing will consist of maneuvering a UUV from the well deck area into stowage, securing for sea, and then unloading and maneuvering back to the well deck area.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Upon successful completion of Phase II, support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use to include test and validation in accordance with Navy regulations and requirements. Following testing and validation, the end design is expected to first be deployed on the LPD 17 Class of ship, and capable of being utilized across all Navy amphibious platforms. Larger scale commercial operations utilizing UUVs of this scale may benefit from the system.
KEYWORDS: Unmanned Maritime Vehicle Systems; Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV); Unmanned Vehicle Stowage; Common UxV Stowage; Modular Stowage; Flexible Stowage.
** TOPIC NOTICE **
The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.
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