The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US has awarded contracts to industry teams to examine innovative concepts for a long-endurance uncrewed vessels.
Most uncrewed vessel concepts proposed to date are derived from manned vessels and share many of the naval architectural features of a manned vessel.
But without a crew onboard, argues the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a space has opened up for much more novel concepts and hullforms, concepts it hopes to examine in its No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) programme, for which a total of seven contracts were let in late November 2020.
According to DARPA, the aim of the NOMARS programme is to kick-start “trade space analysis and conceptual design” for long-endurance USVs. The implication is that without personnel on board, long-endurance USVs could be optimised in ways that are not possible with first-generation designs derived from manned vessels.
DARPA has awarded seven contracts for work on Phase 1 of NOMARS, which seeks to simultaneously explore two competing objectives related to unmanned surface vessels. The first is USV design and the maximization of sea frame performance when human constraints are removed; the second is achieving sufficient vessel maintenance and logistics functionality for long-endurance operations with no human crew onboard.
“NOMARS aims to disrupt conventional naval architecture designs through creative trade space explorations that optimize useable onboard room considering a variety of constraints,” said DARPA announcing the contracts.
“This should pave the way for more capable, affordable small warships that can be procured and maintained in large numbers.”