Bluefin’s SandShark a New Breed of Small, Versatile Underwater Drone

Bluefin’s SandShark a New Breed of Small, Versatile Underwater Drone image
June 15, 2016 | Source: Mark Pomerleau, Defense Systems

In response to a request from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Bluefin met the need for an adaptable one-person-liftable vehicle by miniaturizing energy, guidance, navigation, control and propulsion systems into a 4 7/8” diameter sonobuoy-sized package. This vehicle, available commercially as SandShark™, is an open-platform AUV that provides sensor and capability developers a flexible subsea “reference design” to support rapid technology insertion at a price that affords multi-vehicle applications.

The skies are slowing being dominated by drones of all sizes being used by industries, consumers and militaries around the world. We could see the same thing under the sea within the next decade or so as well. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has noted the military plans to invest $600 million in unmanned undersea technologies within the next five years, and while much of the talk surrounding UUVs has focused on large platforms such as the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle and others that can perform mine countermeasures, conduct intelligence, surveillance an reconnaissance and handle communications, smaller tactical platforms could be a boon to Naval capabilities across a complicated domain.

One example is the SandShark, an autonomous UUV weighing less than 15 pounds that was developed by General Dynamics subsidiary Bluefin Robotics. The notion of low-cost and expendable UUV platforms not only opens several capability doors for both conventional and Special Operations Forces, but it fits neatly within the military’s Third Offset Strategy.

A tactical vehicle such as SandShark fits in with a Navy/Special Ops trend, where it’s less about programs and more about taking products and capabilities and integrating them in unique ways, Tracy Howard, senior manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems, told Defense Systems.

Bluefin SandShark Website,