Boeing has introduced Echo Voyager, its latest unmanned, undersea vehicle (UUV), which can operate autonomously for months at a time thanks to a hybrid rechargeable power system and modular payload bay.
The 51-foot-long vehicle is not only autonomous while underway, but it can also be launched and recovered without the support ships that normally assist UUVs. Echo Voyager is the latest innovation in Boeing’s UUV family, joining the 32-foot Echo Seeker and the 18-foot Echo Ranger, both developed as test beds.
“It represents a unique, game changing approach to the way underwater autonomous systems will be used in the future.”
"I consider them test beds because they only operate on their own for two to three days at a time – they require the surface ship for their launch and recovery," Boeing Phantom Works director, Sea & Land, Lance Towers said.
"The reason why we had the family was to get the stepping stones necessary so that we had the confidence, the history and the skillset to do this system."
Echo Voyager will begin sea trials off the California coast later this summer.
“Echo Voyager can collect data while at sea, rise to the surface, and provide information back to users in a near real-time environment,” Towers said.
Some of the missions it has been designed for include: Surface intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance/information warfare; payload deployment, critical infrastructure protection, weapons platform; unmanned aerial vehicle operations; anti-submarine warfare search and barrier; submarine decoy; mine countermeasures; and battlespace preparation.
“Existing UUVs require a surface ship and crew for day-to-day operations. Echo Voyager eliminates that need and associated costs.”
Towers described the UUV as a baseline vehicle designed to carry a wide variety of payloads for a multiple set of customers, and said if he were to use one word to describe Echo Voyager, it would be "awesome".
"It represents a unique, game changing approach to the way underwater autonomous systems will be used in the future, a paradigm shift that allows our customers to continually do today’s missions and future missions in a far more cost effective manner," Towers said.