Earlier, the U.S. Navy, which is their chief client, had to rely heavily on large, expensive vehicles to meet its defense needs as smaller vehicles hardly had the required degree of longevity. The effectiveness of the underwater vehicle depends upon its efficacy in carrying out required tasks, which in turn depends on the vehicle’s sensors. The latest single-board computers and low power processing combined with Riptide’s commercial processors and unique methods of engineering and packaging make the vehicles both highly capable and highly flexible. This provides users with a reliable and robust platform to advance technology development.
Riptide is distinguished by the fact that its sensors form the major part of the vehicle’s cost and power consumption, whereas the vehicles of other companies tend to dominate the system’s cost and power budget. Jeff Smith, CEO of Riptide Autonomous Solutions, explains, “We create a vehicle around the sensor and application, which enables us to wrap a custom solution around the sensor to optimize it for to the desired mission endurance, driving higher data collection rates.” Riptide’s major challenge was to make the undersea vehicles, which historically cost a few million dollars, available in the range of ten thousand dollars without compromising on their capabilities.
Riptide’s rise to the top of a highly competitive market was remarkable. Within a mere six months of coming up with the micro-UUV, it had already created three classes of vehicles; larger vehicles that had more power and were functional for longer durations, vehicles handling greater payload, or both. The depth ratings of the different vehicles, however, vary—while nylon vehicles can withstand up to 1000 feet deep, trials are being made with 3D printed metal vehicles which can achieve 5000 feet. Riptide anticipates fielding 3D printed titanium vehicles this year that can endure full ocean depth.
By focussing on smaller, lower logistic UUV systems having greater ranges, we look forward to opening up the ocean to make it affordable for exploration and discovery
Three new products are also on the anvil. While they are currently envisioned as smaller, shallow-rated affordable vehicles, the products will eventually be extended to deep-rated, full ocean depth systems. “By focussing on smaller, lower logistic UUV systems having greater ranges, we look forward to opening up the ocean to make it affordable for exploration and discovery,” concludes Smith.