UNDERWATER DRONE TO HARVEST OCEAN ENERGY
The concept of underwater energy harvesting by drones is being developed by the US Defense Department's Advanced Research Agency DARPA. This could not only revolutionize naval propulsion, particularly for drone submarines, by providing them a sustainable energy source. But also, if the drones transport the harvested ocean energy to ships at sea, there would be far less need to return to port to refuel. The time and energy efficiencies would be breakthrough.
Manta Ray Project
DARPA calls the program the Manta Ray Project. It's goal is to develop unmanned underwater vehicles - drones - that can operate underwater for very long, extended periods of time, all the while harvesting the energy of the ocean as a power source. Four companies have just been selected for the job. Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Navtek LLC are working on the drones. And Metron is developing underwater energy harvesting technologies.
Developing Revolutionary Technology
At the moment, underwater drones are greatly limited by their power supplies, that are often as short as 24 hours. Developing drones with greatly expanded, long range duration, along with the technology to harvest the ocean's energy, could revolutionize US Naval operations and be a tremendous gamechanger for the US military. As with most of DARPA's innovations, there would undoubtedly be significant civilian applications as well.