Autonomous Offboard Refueling and Data Transfer for Unmanned Vehicles (to/from naval submersibles and surface craft)

John C. Brandes
Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems, Florida, United States

Keywords: autonomy, energy, power, recharge, data transfer, coupling, launch & recovery, UUV, AUV, ROV, host ship, subordinate vehicle, LCS, submerrsible, submarine

Nominal range for an AUV/UUV is less than 150 km/24 hours, falling short of the period of engagement required to support area dominance or the ability for long range transit into theaters of undersea contested volumes of conflict. Off-board Refueling, Recharging/Data Transfer (ORADTS) describes specific science and technology applicable to Automated Pre-mission Preparations and Automated Mission Deck Operations (AMDO) that integrate 1) developmental automatic aerial UAV refueling CONOPS, 2) auto-racing & Naval refueling systems, 3) patented wet mate multi-channel (liquid/optic/electric) connector technology and 4) Autonomous Navigation Fusion Algorithms (ANFA). Integrating these fundamental technologies directly supports advanced development of ORADTS in compliment to accelerating transition of the high priority UUV (and other) mission automation, while optimizing tactical performance under increasing competition for mission space in host naval vessels and limitations on crew size in the Navy’s overall pursuit of AMDO. ORADTS provides refueling, battery recharge and high-bandwidth bidirectional communication conduits for mission data upload and re-planning of subordinate UUVs from host submarines, surface vessels, and sea floor bases, working individually, in networks and swarms to enable undersea system of system (SOS) network