The Navy is planning to host a workshop in February with industry and academia to explore and better understand the state of unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) system capabilities and identify areas for additional research.

According to a request for information (RFI) released on Nov. 30, the Unmanned Maritime Systems program office (PMS 406)  recently developed a list of desired autonomy capabilities for a large, long-endurance UUV “for which there is a need for further research and development of novel solutions.”

PMS 406 worked with  Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron ONE (UUVRON-1) and the Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC) toward these ends.

The Navy said the categories of autonomy capabilities that could benefit UUVs include in-situ estimate of performance; prediction of future performance; and the detection, prediction and mitigation of faults.

“PMS 406 is eager to engage developers and researchers on these two topics through a two-day workshop featuring select technical presentations,” the notice said.

This RFI is solely for information and planning purposes to facilitate decision making and may be used in the development of the acquisition strategy and future solicitations.

PMS 406 is calling on government, industry and academic leaders to participate in a workshop to explore these issues of performance estimation, performance prediction, fault detection and fault mitigation for next-generation UUV systems.

“It is anticipated that performance, fault handling and overall reliability will become even more important as UUV missions increase in duration from hours to days or weeks of operation. The outcome of the workshop will be an understanding of the state of these capabilities and their applicability to Navy UUV systems, as well as the identification of areas that require additional research,” the notice said.

The Navy argued that in an autonomous vehicle system, real-time decision-making requires the estimation of the current state of system and future performance. Then future performance depends on a prediction of the future internal state of the system, results of actions taken by the system and of the future impact of the environment on the system, including by other actions.

The notice said the workshop aims to focus on two capabilities: performance estimation and failure detection and mitigation.

The impact of poor or non-existent estimates of the system’s future state, or the inability to detect and react to potential failures, will only be exasperated as the duration of the UUV mission increases.”

“Throughout this workshop we will examine how in-situ changes can be evaluated, why such variations occur, how such changes can be avoided, and how they can be mitigated when they occur,” the notice added.

The notice said speakers at the workshop are expected to be autonomy developers and researchers from government, industry or academia with expertise in any aspect of the topic. Each speaker is to present a briefing on their contributions in areas encompassed by the topics. 

The service anticipates the intended audience will include representatives from the Navy enterprise interested in the products of the workshop like future roadmaps and identification of technologies that can be transferred more immediately to Navy UUV systems.

Participation is limited to U.S. registered vendors only and those interested must submit a notice of attendance along with information on their proposed presentation by Dec. 21. The Workshop is set to occur on Feb. 17-18, 2022.

The Navy said the workshop will be unclassified with no proprietary information allowed and publicly releasable information preferred. 

Topics are expected to include expected energy use for various tasks like propulsion efficiency with respect to future environmental conditions; communication availability and bandwidth estimation; navigation performance over mission duration; autonomously conducting sensor calibration, alignment maneuvers, and other performance improvement functions; estimating performance reductions and failures; determining and/or understanding critical subsystems required to complete a mission; and determining the safety and operational status of the platform against user-specified safety limitations.

The Navy said failure detection and mitigation capability refers to the ability of the autonomous system to detect and mitigate current failures or performance degradation of onboard systems and anticipate the likely future failure or degradation. 

“In many cases, the mitigation could be done automatically, but in the near-term and, for some instances, human operators will require succinct and relevant information on how to reconfigure a vehicle’s subsystems in order to successfully complete a mission.”