Pentagon Contractor Completes Manta Ray Underwater Drone Prototype

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By Margaretd. Regina

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has raised eyebrows in the last several years for projects such as its Advanced Plant Technologies (plants that spy) and ReSource Program (which aims to turn trash into food).

If you have never heard of DARPA, it’s a research agency of the United States Department of Defense that creates innovative and cutting-edge technology for the U.S. military.

One of DARPA’s latest projects is the Manta Ray Project.

According to DARPA’s website, the Manta Ray Project seeks “to demonstrate innovative technologies allowing payload-capable autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments without the need for on-site human logistics.”

DARPA tapped defense contractor Northrop Grumman to create a prototype of the Manta Ray.


Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), also known as drones of the sea, are not new innovations.

What is unique about the Manta Ray drone is that it can go on “long-duration missions, harvesting energy to power its trek.”

It also has payload capability, which means it can haul cargo or launch warheads wherever the US military needs them.

Per Naval Technology:

Northrop Grumman Corporation has announced the successful completion of the Manta Ray prototype, an uncrewed underwater vehicle designed to conduct long-duration, long-range missions in challenging ocean environments.

Named after the sea creature, Manta Ray represents a leap forward in Northrop Grumman’s undersea exploration technology, offering autonomous operation without the need for on-site human support.

According to GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence on unmanned maritime vehicles, Northrop’s expertise in advanced networking solutions and platform development has led to its participation in the Angler UUV development programme for the US Navy alongside the Manta Ray programme.

Developed as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative, Manta Ray incorporates technologies to enhance energy management, increase payload capacity, and optimise propulsion efficiency. These advancements pave the way for extended undersea missions, making Manta Ray a versatile platform with a variety of applications.

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