Northrop Grumman has taken a giant leap forward in underwater drone technology with the assembly of their first full-scale ‘Manta Ray‘ uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) prototype unveiled on Monday, April 8.

This innovative drone, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), represents a paradigm shift in how we explore and operate beneath the waves.

Inspired by Nature, Engineered for Efficiency

The Manta Ray draws inspiration from its namesake, the majestic manta ray fish.

Its design features a large, wing-like body that mimics the graceful glide of the natural world.

This biomimicry translates into a highly efficient underwater vehicle, utilizing sea glider principles for low-drag, energy-conserving movement.

Unlike traditional gliders that rely solely on buoyancy changes for propulsion, the Manta Ray employs a combination of these principles and additional thrusters for enhanced maneuverability.

While the exact specifications remain under wraps, Northrop Grumman emphasizes the Manta Ray’s “energy-saving technologies.” This includes anchoring itself on the ocean floor and entering a low-power hibernation state.

With this sleep mode, the UUV can dramatically extend its mission time by saving a lot of battery power, lasting much longer than typical underwater drones.