What are your biggest goals in the field of unmanned systems over the next few years?
Autonomous surface ships have the potential for offloading the dull, dirty and dangerous missions from capital assets, while offering the advantage of significant cost savings over manned platforms. Our goal is to raise awareness of the progress made in maritime autonomy and the highlight the impact unmanned autonomous maritime platforms can have on the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and civilian sector.
Where do you see the industry going in the next decade?
While autonomous vehicles will never completely replace manned platforms, their potential to augment existing manned platforms is tremendous. In turn, the industry is continuing to become more involved in developing unmanned and autonomous platforms for DOD and the civilian market.
What role do you see your company playing in that future?
Leidos is well positioned to be a leader in maritime autonomy. We are currently building the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), a completely autonomous 132-foot trimaran that will be able to operate unmanned for sustained periods at sea while conducting ASW and a variety of alternate missions. This capability is a revolutionary step forward in maritime autonomy.
What do you see as major challenges to the unmanned systems industry?
The biggest challenge will be proving autonomous platforms and systems really work, which requires a great deal of testing and evaluation. To ensure the successful launch of ACTUV, Leidos has invested in a surrogate vessel to conduct sea testing of the autonomy system and commercial off-the-shelf sensors. The use of modeling and simulation, including over 26,000 events modeled to date, as well as weeks of at-sea testing of the autonomy system using the surrogate vessel, have ensured and demonstrated that the system not only works, it works well.
What makes AUVSI membership attractive to your company?
AUVSI provides an outstanding forum for the advancement of ideas and capabilities in unmanned systems and development of autonomous vehicles. As Leidos continues to invest in maritime autonomy, this membership is a key component to ensuring we continue to develop and leverage best practices for the employment, use, and safety aspects of unmanned and autonomous vehicles.