Just as TV remote control history tells us that the first ones were physically tethered to their TV sets—both a convenience and inconvenience—unmanned underwater vehicles have previously been able to operate autonomously, but only with round-the-clock support from a manned surface ship. Boeing's new 51-foot Echo Voyager subsea drone plans to change all that.
Building on what they've learned from deploying previous submersibles in their Echo line, the 18.5-foot Ranger and 32-foot Seeker, Boeing sees a wide range of applications for the fully autonomous Voyager, which can operate independently (although not always underwater the whole time) for up to half-a-year stints.
As Lance Towers, Director of Sea & Land at Boeing Phantom Works, points out, "It's a baseline vehicle that has the ability to carry a wide variety of payloads for a multiple set of customers."
In other words, rather than a particular configuration, it's more of a customizable platform designed to carry out a mix of missions, from reconnaissance to payload deployment to warfare. It's all up to whoever buys the technology.
Just more proof that, whether over land, in the sky or under the sea, drones are our future. Resistance is futile.