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US Navy reveals its latest recruit: 'Silent Nemo' robofish can swim into enemy territory undetected - and is designed to look exactly like a tuna

Designed to swim into enemy territory, and to guard the hulls of US boats
Uses a robo-fin to move silently through enemy water undetected
Can be controlled with a joystick or be programmed to swim on its own

By Mark Prigg for MailOnline

Published: 18:44 GMT, 12 December 2014 | Updated: 19:28 GMT, 12 December 2014

The US Navy has revealed its latest recruit - a giant robotic spy disguised as a tuna.

The robo-fish is designed to swim into enemy territory, and to guard the hulls of US boats.

It uses a robo-fin to move silently through the water - and had been dubbed 'Silent Nemo' by Navy bosses.

Researchers from the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell and Boston Engineering tested the prototype at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia on Thursday.

The fish can be controlled with a joystick or be programmed to swim on its own.

The unmanned underwater vehicle is able to make tight turns and move through the water quietly, making it ideal for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The Navy hopes it could be used to inspect the hull of a ship, check waters for threats such as mines or protrusions, deliver payloads including sonar and guidance packages, and access otherwise denied areas.

Over the past several weeks, Boston Engineering's tuna-sized device, also known as Ghost Swimmer, has been gathering data on tides, varied currents, wakes, and weather conditions for the development of future tasks.

'GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe,' said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering's Advanced Systems Group.

The GhostSwimmer was developed to resemble the shape and mimic the swimming style of a large fish.

At a length of approximately 5 feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds, the GhostSwimmer vehicle can operate in water depths ranging from 10 inches to 300 feet.

'It swims just like a fish does by oscillating its tail fin back and forth,' said Rufo.

'The unit is a combination of unmanned systems engineering and unique propulsion and control capabilities.'

Its bio-mimicry provides additional security during low visibility intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and friendly hull inspections, while quieter than propeller driven craft of the same size, according to Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC).

The robot is capable of operating autonomously for extended periods of time due to its long-lasting battery, but it can also be controlled via laptop with a 500-foot tether.

The tether is long enough to transmit information while inspecting a ship's hull, for example, but if operating independently (without a tether) the robot will have to periodically be brought to the surface to download its data.

'This project and others that we are working on at the CRIC are important because we are harnessing the brainpower and talents of junior Sailors,' said Capt. Jim Loper, department head for Concepts and Innovation, NWDC.

'The opportunity for a young Sailor who has a good idea to get that idea heard, and to get it turned into action, is greater [now] than any other time in our Navy's history.'

Capt. Jim Loper, head of the concepts and innovation department at the Navy Warfare Development Command in Norfolk, told the Virginian Pilot it could become operational as soon as next year.

'The idea is to take millions of years of evolution,' said the project's manager, Marine Corps Capt. Jerry Lademan.

'This fish has perfected itself by swimming around the water for millenia, so what we are trying to do with this project, the idea of biomimicry, is to reverse engineer what nature has already done to optimize design for us.It looks alive.'

Loper and Michael Rufo, director of the advanced systems group at Boston Engineering, which specializes in unmanned systems and robotics, said it would take only months to complete the technology for Nemo to swim on its own.

Rufo said the fish's combination of 'efficiency, maneuverability and speed' make it relevant for naval operations.

While no weaponry has been developed for Nemo, Loper said the full scope of applications hasn't been exhausted.

'Let your imagination run wild,' he said.









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www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2871907/US-Navy-reveals-latest-recruit-Project-Silent-Nemo-robofish-set-swim-enemy-territory-undetected-designed-look-exactly-like-tuna-fish.html

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