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Meet the Navy’s Knifefish Mine-Hunting Robot

by John Reed on April 16, 2012

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.

 

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