Bluefin Robotics UUV cruises from Boston to NY --- in 109 operational hours

This photo was included with the Bluefin Robotics’ press release.
This photo was included with the Bluefin Robotics’ press release.

Bluefin Robotics, a Quincy-based designer of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs, said Wednesday that one of its vehicles recently completed an autonomous run from Boston to New York in 109 operational hours.

The UUV in question is a Bluefin-21 that is used by the Naval Research Laboratory, or NRL. This NRL vehicle is known as a Reliant Heavyweight.

The Boston-to-New York exercise is part of a series to support NRL’s research in UUV-based technology for the US Navy.

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The vehicle navigates underwater by using a fiber-optic gyro-based inertial navigational system along with supplemental data from a GPS and a Doppler Velocity Log. 

According to the Bluefin Robotics website, the typical Bluefin-21 is just over 16 feet long and weighs 1,650 pounds when dry. That weight can vary depending on how the vehicle is configured for a specific mission.

The Reliant utilizes Bluefin’s modular design, which enabled the Boston-to-New York team to easily remove the vehicle’s payload section and add additional energy sections, the company said.

In a press release, Bluefin Robotics said: “The team mobilized the vehicle on the Boston Harbor Cruise’s, M/V Matthew J. Hughes, and deployed it outside Boston Harbor. To optimize for endurance and range, the vehicle traveled at an average speed of 2.5 knots at 10 meters water depth, resurfacing every 20 kilometers for navigation updates over GPS. Team members on M/V Matthew J. Hughes and onshore were able to receive vehicle status information over the Iridium satellite system. While the support vessel was available, it did not provide navigational updates to the UUV, leaving the system to travel completely autonomously. After 109 hours of operation and transiting over 500 kilometers through strong currents, the system successfully reached its end point in New York Harbor with 10 percent of its battery life remaining.”