The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected L3Harris Technologies [LHX] for Phase 1 of the No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program to design an unmanned ship concept, the company said March 2.
NOMARS is a two-phase program to demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of an unmanned surface ship performing lengthy missions autonomously.
According to the DARPA website, the program is focused on exploring novel approaches to designing the seaframe.
“NOMARS aims to challenge the traditional naval architecture model, designing a seaframe from the ground up with no provision, allowance, or expectation for humans at sea.”
This means the program is trying to maximize seaframe performance without considering human constraints and achieve sufficient maintenance and logistics functionality for long endurance operations without human crew.
L3Harris said its design concept will streamline NOMARS’ construction, logistics, operations and maintenance life-cycle. It noted it worked with VARD Marine to validate the concept and design of the architecture and hull, mechanical and electrical systems.
“L3Harris continues to pioneer innovative autonomous solutions that offer fully automated and integrated ship control and preventative maintenance systems to the U.S. Navy and its allies. The NOMARS program selection reinforces our commitment to deliver highly reliable and affordable autonomous solutions that transform the way the U.S. Navy conducts its future missions,” Sean Stackley, president of integrated mission systems at L3Harris, said in a statement.
The company said its design includes an advanced autonomous operating system that can make decisions and determine actions without direct human interaction.
“This concept optimizes autonomous surface ship operations to support the U.S. Navy’s future missions,” the company said.
Last October, DARPA awarded seven contracts to work on Phase 1 of NOMARS: Autonomous Surface Vehicles, LLC, Gibbs & Cox Inc., and Serco Inc. received Phase 1 Track A awards and were directed to work towards developing novel NOMARS demonstrator conceptual designs.
DARPA told Defense Daily Tuesday that L3Harris is the overall company that contains Autonomous Surface Vehicles as one of the Track A performers. The contract was awarded in September 2020.
Meanwhile, Barnstorm Research Corporation and TDI Technologies, Inc. received Phase 1 Track B awards, and were directed to develop “robust approaches to ship health-monitoring via novel Self-Adaptive Health Management (SAHM) architectures, which will be pivotal to achieving NOMARS at-sea endurance and reliability objectives.”
InMar Technologies and Siemens Corp. also received Phase 1 Track B awards focused, respectively, on developing new techniques to morph hull structures to maximize performance and implanting toolsets previously developed via the DARPA TRADES program to design optimized material structures for novel ship concepts.
In November, Gibbs & Cox confirmed its DLBA division was supporting the NOMARS program, exploring the trade space for clean-sheet vessel designed developed without provision for a crew on board (Defense Daily, Nov. 25, 2020)
DARPA previously outlined that following the Phase 1 trade space exploration studies, in Phases 2 and 3, contractors will build prototype hardware to demonstrate some concepts, culminating in an “X-ship” seaframe to be used for demonstration, testing and future ship design experiments.