Martin Defense Group Wins DARPA Phase 2 Award for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Article by Communications Staff |  

Honolulu, HI – 22 FEB 2022 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Martin Defense Group (MDG) a $54.8 million contract for Phase 2 of the Manta Ray program. The program funds research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies allowing payload-capable autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments. The program funds work at various MDG locations including Hawaii, Maine, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Click here to watch video: DARPA Manta Ray Program

Picture above: Artist’s concept of Manta Ray UUV. Image credit: DARPA Public Affairs.

During this phase of the Manta Ray program, MDG will assemble and demonstrate a vehicle that incorporates novel energy management techniques for UUV operations; low-power, high efficiency undersea propulsion systems; mission management approaches for extended durations while accounting for dynamic maritime environments; and new approaches to mitigate biofouling, corrosion, and other material degradation for long duration missions.

“Martin Defense Group’s conceptual and design efforts in Phase 1 of DARPA’s Manta Ray program will now advance into Phase 2, which concludes with full-scale at-sea demonstrations,” said CDR Kyle Woerner, the DARPA Program Manager for Manta Ray. “Building and testing this full-scale, integrated Manta Ray system will convincingly demonstrate that DARPA has ‘redefined possible’ for undersea vehicles.”

“We are excited to continue our work on Manta Ray into Phase 2. This is an incredible opportunity for a small business with great partners to disrupt the large UUV space. This is also a great win for continuing high technology maritime focused research and development in Hawaii,” Dan Brunk, Chief Executive Officer, MDG.

“DARPA programs are known to be difficult because they are looking for transformational change and not just incremental improvement. This program pushes the limits of underwater vehicle technology and autonomy in several new directions. We are extremely lucky to have assembled through the years an excellent team of engineers and scientists, both internally and with our partners on this program, enabling us to compete against companies 100 times our size. As a Honolulu based company, we have a unique perspective that leads to advantages for conducting this type of research” said Brian Kays, Vice President of Platform Design West, MDG.

Key subcontractors to MDG on this program include the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington (APL-UW) which has expertise in unmanned underwater vehicle autonomy and controls; North Carolina State University (NCSU) which has expertise in underwater energy harvesting; Systems & Technology Research (STR) which has expertise in undersea systems operations, sensors, communications, and signal processing, and Areté which has expertise in physical oceanography and marine sensor applications.

“We are excited to contribute to this program, with technical contributions from our Arlington, Woburn, and San Diego offices. The MDG relationship during the Phase 1 effort has been exceedingly collaborative and effective in solving design issues enabling the project to move into the Phase 2 vehicle development effort,” E. Scott Stickels, Chief Scientist for Undersea Systems, STR.

About Martin Defense Group

Martin Defense Group (MDG) is the leading provider of innovative research and product development. Our team of engineers have deep technical knowledge allowing them to solve complex problem sets. Since its founding in Hawaii in 1979, MDG has a long history of naval architecture design and analysis, and has grown to open offices in Rhode Island, Maine, Virginia, Michigan, South Carolina, and Kansas.