Common Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) Stern Launch and Recovery System
Navy SBIR FY2018.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-039
Topic Title: Common Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) Stern Launch and Recovery System
Proposal No.: N181-039-0542
Firm: Navatek Ltd
841 Bishop Street
Suite 1110
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Contact: Christopher Cluett
Phone: (516) 695-7245
Web Site:
Abstract: The rapid growth of UUVs in the U.S. Navy drives the need to easily deploy and recover these assets. The ability to launch and recover a variety of sized UUVs effectively from a variety of naval vessels with different missions presents a tactical advantage that currently does not exist. To support continued advances in the use of underwater robotic systems for the Navy, a Common Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Stern Launch and Recovery System (LARS) is proposed. The conceptual design leverages and builds upon existing soft robotics technology, a subfield of robotics dedicated to conformal materials, by applying highly compliant materials for the in-water capture mechanism. The compliant capture mechanism floats off the stern of the vessel and is attached to an inflatable lower ramp, which in turn is hinged to an aluminum telescopic upper ramp. The system is fully retractable, housed in a portable containerized platform. The system is designed to decouple the shipÉ?Ts motions from the LARS to reduce the transmission of torsional and vertical motions of the vessel to the UUV during capture. Analysis and simulation, using NavatekÉ?Ts already developed and validated hydro-mechanical modeling tools, will be conducted to provide and initial assessment of concept performance.
Benefits: The research performed under this proposed scope of work will have applicability across a range of Department of Defense problems. In general, the use of UUVs is expected to increase as time goes on. Further, the range of sizes of UUVs is expected to grow with the LDUUV development. Beyond capture and release of UUVs, this technology could be useful in the capture and release of AUVs and USVs and the in development USAACs (unmanned surface amphibious assault craft). We expect that bringing soft robotics into the design portfolio for inflatable structures will greatly expand their utility for a range of DoD problems. At the end of this proposed work, we anticipate we will be able to add soft robotics, conformal gripping, and autonomous connecting of components to the array of possibilities for inflatable structures. NavatekÉ?Ts plan for commercialization of the UUV launch and recovery system has three parts: our plan as a company to produce these components as needed by the Navy; our plan to integrate these parts into the Navy to ensure adoption of the product; and our plan to commercialize this product outside of the Navy. There are applications for launch and recovery of UUVs used for oil and gas exploration or ocean exploration. The product could be modified for small boat capture at boat ramps and in drydocks or berths. The ability to capture small boats with parts that are less likely to damage the boat would be of interest in the pleasure boating world. It would be of interest both to the boater and the repair yards that want to protect boats during capture.