Lockheed Martin Selects OEM for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

SeaRobotics to produce AUV for deep water survey and inspection.

Public enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles has been growing and recent market reports have suggested that the commercial drone market could be worth $4+ billion by 2021.

But while most of us have been looking up for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Lockheed Martin has been thinking aquatically with its autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Most recently, the company selected the SeaRobotics Corporation as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for its newest AUV: The Marlin Mk3.

The Marlin Mk3’s predecessor. (Video courtesy of Lockheed Martin).

Designed for survey and inspection applications, the Marlin can operate at depths of up to 4,000 meters (approximately 2.5 miles). This makes it ideally suited to pipeline and platform inspections.

The Marlin can be outfitted with various sensor packages, including:

  • Multi-beam
  • Side Scan
  • 3D
  • Sub-bottom profiler
  • Synthetic aperture sonars

Using these sensors, the AUV can capture high-resolution video as well as still photos and laser profiles.

The Marlin’s 44-kWh battery capacity means it can function for up to 24 hours with an operational range of over 100 kilometers (62 miles).

Once launched from a utility-class work vessel, the Marlin automatically navigates to the work site to conduct a 3D sonar survey. Any changes to the structure are transmitted to the AUV’s shipboard operator. Upon being recalled, the Marlin returns to its underwater dock, which is suspended from the shipboard launch and recovery system.

Coming soon from SeaRobotics: The Lockheed Martin Marlin Mk3. (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)

Coming soon from SeaRobotics: The Lockheed Martin Marlin Mk3. (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)

“Lockheed Martin’s extensive AUV development expertise, coupled with SeaRobotics’ comprehensive commercial design, manufacturing and offshore support capabilities, forms a team that is fully capable of delivering Marlin’s game-changing technology to commercial markets,” said Don Darling, president of SeaRobotics.

In addition to the obvious pipeline and platform applications, the Marlin could also be used to monitor submarine telecommunication cables. Significant outages occur when those cables are cut, which is why the damage needs to be located as quickly as possible.

The Marlin would be well-suited to such a task, though this generation is strictly for surveying and inspection and can’t actually repair damage.

For more information, visit the SeaRobotics website.