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Unmanned Surface Vehicle and Small Combatant Craft

Work in these areas supports the Navy’s interest in advanced sea platform performance, advanced sea platform and autonomy technologies, specifically:

  • Bio-inspired flexible propulsors for fast, efficient swimming - investigation of underlying fluid-structure interaction of bio-propulsors that result in reports of highly efficient, high speed and quiet underwater propulsion
  • Autonomous Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) Future Naval Capabilities Program - provides continued maturation of ONR S&T that is directed at the Navy’s USVs
  • Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) - on-water testing of MDUSV autonomous control and integration and testing of two payloads onto a medium-displacement USV and on-water testing
  • Planing hull hydrodynamics - adapting current computational tools for accurate determination of slamming pressures for semi-planing and planing boats
  • USV SWARM autonomy - directed at developing high risk/high payoff USV autonomy both in single and multi-USV configurations, with a focus on advancing autonomous perception, path-planning, behavior-based autonomous control and USV collaboration

Research Concentration Areas

  • Field a self-deploying, highly autonomous multi-mission/multi-payload USV capable of operating with Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs)/Surface Action Groups (SAGs) at very low operating cost – enabling a paradigm in naval warfare of hybrid manned/unmanned ships
  • Field highly autonomous USVs that can conduct specific behaviors (conducive to missions): examples are patrol, classify, track and trail
  • Increase payload fraction, range, endurance of small combatant craft; understand risk of reducing structural weight

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Medium Displacement Underwater Surface Vehicle:
    • Develop an USV with ocean-spanning range, months of endurance, good seakeeping, and substantial payload
    • Develop a high level of autonomy for independent operations under sparse supervisory control and low bandwidth
    • Provide utility for a variety of Navy missions
  • USV Swarm:
    • Develop and demonstrate highly autonomous, multi-USV operations for offensive and defensive missions
    • Use small, inexpensive USVs
    • Demonstrate and assess operational utility
    • Demonstrate autonomous control performance sufficient to generate human operator trust
  • Planing Hull Dynamics:
    • Develop an improved understanding of how to design boat structures capable of withstanding impact loads and responding to seaway forces while minimizing the craft’s structural weight and improving overall vessel performance
    • Develop an improved understanding of the dynamic response of semi-planing and planing craft in a seaway

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please refer to our broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-22-S-B001.

Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.

Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.


Brizzolara, Robert Dr.
Division Director
Code 331