Boston Engineering's (booth 240) GhostSwimmer autonomous underwater vehicle is preparing to enter the second phase of an 18-month Office of Naval Research Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
Michael A Rufo, the Boston's principal engineer, says the company is negotiating that phase now and when that is done he expects to have a pre-production model that can be compared with other underwater systems.
Using a "bio-mimetic" model - in the case of the GhostSwimmer, a tuna - has several advantages, Rufo says. It has less drag than most underwater vehicles and the oscillating tail has "up to twice as much efficiency as a propeller".
The GhostSwimmer's fins can be changed out depending on mission needs, he says, and the vehicle has onboard autonomy. An operator can tell it to swim with maximum efficiency and it will calculate the best way to do that, or it can be told to get somewhere fast and flap its tail harder.
Ultimately such a fishlike robot could operate offshore by itself or swim in a robotic school with other fish, conducting surveillance or taking measurements.
Boston Engineering is displaying two models at its booth. One is an autonomous prototype the company has been testing with the assistance of students from Olin College in nearby Needham, Mass, and the other is a maneuverability test platform.