Eel Drones and the Future of Underwater Warfare

by Carolyn Sotka

eel drones

DarkGeometryStudios via Shutterstock

UUVs or unmanned underwater vehicles are currently being used and the technology continues to be developed in over 12 countries. The future of drones in general, whether it is by air, surface, ground or underwater, offers promise for lower costs to operate, less manual labor and, unfortunately, myriad possibilities for stealth warfare.

The U.S. Navy has invested heavily in the development of UUVs. To date, most have been used to detect mines; map the ocean floor or take other oceanographic measurements; gather intelligence, surveillance or reconnaissance; and for anti-submarine warfare. Several models are based on the physical forms of ocean swimmers like tuna, jellies, rays and sharks, but it might be eels that have the winning hydrodynamic design.

Technically referred to by their scientific order name, Anguilliform – eel drones are highly maneuverable and flexible which is key to navigating small spaces. Eel drones mimic the way eels swim, with an undulated movement in the form of a wave down the length of the body, pushing water out of the way from side to side. This movement is also more energy efficient, produces more thrust at lower swimming speeds and is less detectable due to noiseless propulsion. Below is a video of a ribbon eel doing its thing.

Eel drones could help defend battleships or other surface platforms. Coupled with air strikes, they could present a daunting new attack strategy. NASA is also considering ‘snakebots’ for the future exploration of Mars.

Find the complete, scary article on Defense One. – CS


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