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NEWS | May 19, 2015

NRL to Showcase Autonomous Systems at Fleet Week New York, May 20-26

By Claire Peachey

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is taking some of its newest technologies to the Big Apple May 20-26 to participate in Fleet Week New York, that city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. On Pier 86, alongside the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, NRL will showcase the WANDA unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) and the Flimmer flying swimmer hybrid unmanned platform. Thousands of visitors are expected at this week-long event that shows off the latest technology of the maritime services and the skilled expertise of our dedicated service members. NRL is participating together with the Office of Naval Research, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Naval Academy, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Fleet Week is a fantastic opportunity to show a wide audience the kind of innovative work NRL is doing to give the Navy and Marine Corps the technological edge, today and into the future, says NRL Commanding Officer Captain Mark Bruington. We also consider it a privilege to be part of New York's Memorial Day commemoration, honoring our service men and women.

NRL technologies will be displayed on Pier 86, in Times Square, and at Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Night at the New York Science Center.

The WANDA and Flimmer programs are investigating several unique aspects of autonomous systems. WANDA is a bio-inspired UUV that has flapping, deformable fins based on those of a coral reef fish. The fins allow WANDA to achieve low-speed maneuvering and station-keeping in dynamic shallow waters, where traditional platforms experience stability and control problems. WANDA is advancing the capabilities needed for littoral zone missions such as harbor protection and shoreline monitoring.

Flimmer is a vehicle that combines both flying and swimming capabilities: it is deployed from the air, flies to the area of interest, glides to a water surface landing, then dives to swim underwater. The design successfully balances the requirements of flying and submerging, and modifies WANDA's fin technology to function both in the air and underwater. Flimmer provides a way to rapidly emplace a UUV in hard-to-reach areas.

Both WANDA and Flimmer are thinking-outside-the-box technologies, just the kind of thing NRL excels at, says NRL Director of Research Dr. John Montgomery. These unconventional vehicles are expanding the Navy's operational envelope and represent NRL's multidisciplinary, synergistic character.

At STEM Night at the New York Science Center, NRL aerospace engineer Jason Geder will have the WANDA and Flimmer models on hand and will take part in a panel discussion answering student questions about what inspired him to pursue his field, and where his career journey has taken him. Also on display will be an engineering model of NRL's Vanguard satellite, always a favorite at STEM events.

Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is an opportunity for visitors to get a first-hand look at the latest capabilities of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Activities include dozens of demonstrations, displays, hands-on science activities, concerts, and tours of participating ships. Navy participating ships include amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and Aegis guided missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Stout (DDG 55).

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