The US Navy Awards Minesweeping Autonomous Subs a $9.5M Contract

The company building the hardware also dabbles in computer vision and autonomy software.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Underwater sea mines are dangerous there's no doubt and the process of neutralizing them is a very tricky one. Now, one new firm Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics is designing a robot to handle the difficult task, according to a press release.

The firm has received a $9.5 million contract from the Office of Naval Research to create these new underwater robotic systems that will tackle sea mines. The new program, called Maritime Mine Neutralization System (M2NS), will use the RE2 Sapien™ Sea Class system to place neutralization devices to underwater mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs).

“The detection and neutralization of WBIEDs and other underwater explosives is a critically dangerous task for Navy divers.  Consistent with our mission of improving worker safety, the M2NS will enable the Navy to find and autonomously neutralize targets in deep ocean waters, while experienced divers supervise from a safe distance,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics.

M2NS uses RE2 Sapien's Sea Class arms that are equipped with human-like dexterity (7-function per arm) making manipulating/neutralization a safe and efficient process. These arms are also capable of functioning at depths of down to 984 ft (300 m) or deeper and can lift up to 11.4 lb (5.2 kg) of weight while underwater. M2NS will also use RE2's Detect computer vision software to locate targets underwater, and RE2's Intellect to autonomously and precisely place devices on those targets.

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The firm added that it will also integrate new sensors to provide situational awareness and aid autonomy, essentially helping the new robotic system to understand what's happening around it and be able to react accordingly.

RE2 Robotics adds that its M2NS underwater robots can also be used for "complex offshore infrastructure and maintenance applications in the oil & gas and renewable wind industries."

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