Meet the Navy’s Knifefish Mine-Hunting Robot

So, what’s this thing that looks like a digicam’d torpedo? It’s what the Navy is hoping will be it’s next-gen anti-mine robot called the Knifefish.

Yup, the Knifefish is going to be a 20-foot, 3,000-pound robot that will go on 16-hour missions snooping around for sea mines using low-frequency bandwidth synthetic aperture sonar that’s so effective that it can even penetrate beneath the ocean floor depending on the makeup of the sediment on the seafloor, according to Navy Capt. Duane Ashton of the Navy’s Maritime Systems Program Office who unveiled the beast during the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., today.

The Knifefish is designed to prowl the seas autonomously and can scan “high-clutter” environments using its sonar to tell the difference between all sorts of sea mines or even random debris, like say a refrigerator, on the sea floor by comparing the shape of an object with a database of known sea mines. The only downside for now is that the fish has to come back to its mothership — Littoral Combat Ships to start and eventually “ships of opportunity” — to upload the information that it vacuums up on its missions. Eventually, the craft will be able to transfer data back to to its motherships.

The torpedo-looking minehunters will be in service by 2017, according to Ashton.


15 Comments on "Meet the Navy’s Knifefish Mine-Hunting Robot"

  1. Is this the same low freq sonar that kills whales, dolphins, ect every time they use it?

  2. Sounds like the robot they used to scan and map the Titanic debris field recently. If you didn't watch it last night, the History Channel showed an expedition where they took two torpedo-looking robots with downward looking sonar on pre-programmed patterns to map the entirety of the 15 square mile debris field. It took about a week for the two robots to do it.

  3. Cool- just hopes it works for under $2 billion-

    A module that does what its supposed to do for the LCS would be nice-

  4. It can be an anti submarine or anti missile boat too if they place camera on it.

  5. anantoniusbauwens | April 17, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply

    Yeah we have a torpedo wich can follow the……..think of our dolpins or do some think we onlly needed them for Navy to rain??

  6. Neat toy.

  7. Is that KNIFE to kill a super FISH.

  8. Why do you need camo underwater??? It could be pink with polka dots. Nobody but the fish will see the thing.

  9. Having served on sweeps in the 70"s, wooden ones, and watched as helo's were trying to use cable from above surface, I have to wonder about this High tech toy, what about the removal of the mines or will the navy just locate and hope to send the ships in a different direction? I'm all for saftey of vassels but there are times when you have to be hands on to accomplish the mission.

  10. This thing is going to be a beast to handle. The picture is only 1/4 model representation. At 3000lbs, it'll be almost twice as heavy as a Bluefin 21 and 65% heavier than a Remus 6000. Good luck with that guys.

  11. This looks like the same thing my fellow shipmates and I tested several years back, on the HSV the test bed platform for what is now the LTC. It worked good had a lot of promise, but also had it's fair share of issues.
    Seven years and what is no doubt millions in research and upgrade dollars hopefully will have improved it dramatically.
    This could be available for any ship platform.
    but I do agree that it does ignore the question of what to do once it locates mines, however that is why the US Navy still has minesweepers, even wooden ones.

  12. This post is unclass. A magician never reveals his secrets, especially when an adersary could be in the auditorium. A small package like this will likely not have the battery life to supply a high enough SPL (sound pressure level) to pose a threat to sea life. If you dropped your Ipod in the water while listening to screamo, would that infuriate the whales? Hardly (aside from it shorting out when the salt water penetrated the casing).

  13. This is the hunter part of an hunter/killer team. Another killer vehicle/team will have to come and neutralize the mine, usually by detonating explosives just next to it. In fact, it is just a classical heavy torpedo without explosive charge, with an optimised sonar and a low speed propeller and maybe more computing power.

  14. To those pointing out that there are US interests or threats to “your interests” thousands of kilometers from nearest US border:

    Yankee Go Home. Or perhaps GTFO is something you understand better.

    Stop stealing and exploiting other countries, grow up and become independent.

  15. The LCS already has the RMMV/RMS which runs on diesel fuel and therefore can operate a long time at fairly high speeds towing an advanced AQS-20 Raytheon sonar that’s already proven (was towed from helos originally).

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