DARPA’s Manta Ray: The Future of Underwater Drones

In a groundbreaking development, Northrop Grumman has built the Manta Ray, a mysterious for the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA). This innovative craft, reportedly four years in the making, could revolutionize long-range military missions by hiding in plain sight and harvesting energy from the seas.

Mimicking Nature to Address Undersea Warfare Challenges

The Manta Ray takes its name and design from one of the ocean's most spectacular creatures. By mimicking the manta ray, the drone aims to address the complex challenges of undersea warfare, such as biofouling and sea life corrosion. This biomimicry approach allows the craft to blend in with its surroundings, making it an ideal tool for covert operations.

Autonomous Operation and Energy Harvesting

What sets the Manta Ray apart is its ability to operate autonomously for extended periods. By generating its own energy from the surrounding ocean, the drone can potentially remain submerged for months without human intervention. Images and a video shared by DARPA suggest that the Manta Ray gathers energy from nearby waves, feeding it into its batteries and enabling efficient operation with minimal energy consumption.

“The unmanned craft takes its design and name from one of the most spectacular creatures of the sea, and the hope is that it will address the complex nature of undersea warfare.” – DARPA

Potential Military and Scientific Applications

While the Manta Ray drone is primarily designed for military purposes, its capabilities could also have significant scientific benefits. Like other innovative robotics, such as the robot that melts after completing its mission, the Manta Ray could be deployed in a variety of missions where long-term, autonomous operation is crucial.

However, the drone still faces challenges, such as the eventual need to replace its batteries. Despite this, the Manta Ray's ability to harvest energy from the sun and the ocean, combined with the longevity of modern batteries, suggests that it could operate for extended periods without human intervention.

DARPA's Manta Ray represents a significant step forward in the development of underwater drones. By mimicking nature, harvesting energy from the ocean, and operating autonomously, this mysterious craft could redefine the future of undersea warfare and scientific exploration.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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