The Unites States department of Homeland Security (DHS) is funding the latest and greatest of underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV) to patrol U.S. coasts.
Developed by Boston Engineering Corporation’s Advanced Systems Group, the BIOSwimmer is modeled after a tuna. Yes, like the kind you eat. The company says it picked the tuna because it has evolved into one of the fastest and most maneuverable fishes of its size. “The positioning of the tuna’s dorsal and pectoral fins, as well as its basic shape and mode of swimming, will give it the speed and maneuverability it needs to search and inspect areas where previous UUV designs have had difficulty,” says David Taylor, program manager for the BIOSwimmer at the DHS.
While details about the parts and materials chosen are not yet available, previous UUVs use carbon fiber in the body structure as well as areas to protect surveillance equipment. The main objectives of the BIOSwimmer are to enter flooded bilges and tanks of ships, maneuver around ship propulsion and steerage systems and enter or inspect sea chests looking for threats to national security and potential invasive species. The durability and lightweight characteristics of composites will aid in those objectives.