Navy Developing Underwater Robotic Arm

By Mandy Mayfield

Photo: re2 Robotics

The Office of Naval Research awarded re2 Robotics a $2.5 million contract to continue to develop an underwater robotic arm.

The program — known as the dexterous maritime manipulations system, or DM2S — will assist the Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal personnel as they encounter waterborne improvised explosive devices.

“This effort is going to be focused on testing our electromechanical underwater arms, learning from and working with the users to get feedback to make sure we are developing what is truly needed,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of the company.

The goal of DM2S is to keep individuals out of harm’s way and allow the system to perform dangerous assignments, such as disposing of underwater mines, he said.

The robotic arms are developed as attachments to existing platforms.

“Although it is very capable, you can view it as an accessory,” Pedersen said. “You can bolt it on and it attaches. Now, some integration is required within the platform provider, but the interface is very straightforward on how it connects.”

In addition to the newly awarded contract, RE2 is also working with the Navy to build inflatable underwater robotic arms.

The devices use seawater to inflate, then use the water to operate the robotic arm, Pedersen said.

“We use that sea water to inflate that soft material so that water becomes the structure of the arm,” he said. “And then we also use the water to control the arm, and the only thing that is really separating the arm from the ocean is just a thin material.”

Pedersen also touted the technology’s capacity to be leveraged in the commercial space. The oil and gas industry is interested in using the technology to carry out inspections, he noted.

Topics: Navy News, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Robotics, Research and Development, Undersea Warfare

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