DARPA releases wish list for underwater vehicle launcher

Earlier this month, DARPA hosted a “Proposer’s Day” at Johns Hopkins University to share details of its futuristic Hydra program with companies who might be in a position to help make it a reality. The goal of Hydra is to create an unmanned undersea system that can rapidly deploy unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles worldwide. Pretty cool.

Concept Art

In theory, the system would complement the Navy’s ships and submarines through undersea network of ready-to-deploy assets (ergo the reason it’s named after a multi-headed creature from Greek mythology). According to Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager, such an unmanned technology infrastructure below the surface of the ocean could relieve some of the resource strain caused when today’s budget austerity runs up against security challenges including natural disasters, piracy, ungoverned states and more.

Yesterday, DARPA posted the Broad Agency Announcement on Hydra, which outlines exactly what types of proposals it is seeking. You can download here.

In it, DARPA calls for innovative solutions for a modular enclosure, air vehicle payload, undersea payload as well as overall system concepts of operation and supporting technologies. Proposals are due by Oct. 22.

Hydra is obviously in its very earliest stages, but it does shed light on the direction the U.S. Department of Defense sees unmanned systems going, and as expected they will play an increasingly large role in future operations.

[ image courtesy of DARPA ]