The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded RE2 Robotics a $9.5 million US contract to develop an underwater robotic system for the autonomous neutralization of underwater mines and explosive devices.
The Maritime Mine Neutralization System (M2NS) will use a robotic system to place and attach neutralization devices to underwater mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs). RE2 will serve as the systems integrator for the program – integrating its Sapien Sea Class robotic arms, advanced computer vision and autonomy software, RE2 Detect and RE2 Intellect. The system will travel on VideoRay’s Defender remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
The M2NS will also use RE2 Detect computer vision software to locate mines and its Intellect autonomy software to place neutralizing devices on those targets precisely. An array of new sensors will provide situational awareness and aid autonomy. The RE2 Sapien Sea Class robotic arms feature a compact, strong, electromechanical design with human-like dexterity that is neutrally buoyant. The arm has six degrees of freedom, including continuous wrist and elbow roll joints, to allow for precise manipulation and placement of objects. They can operate at depths of down to 300 meters (984 ft) or deeper and can lift up to 5.2 kg (11.4 lb) while underwater.
“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.