Unmanned underwater vehicles are exploring deeper below the ocean surface than ever before. The unmanned underwater vehicle Echo Ranger began operations in 2001 and continues today as an operational test bed and contracted work system for ocean surveys. Following three years of designing, building and testing the vehicle, Boeing’s Advanced Technology Program team in Huntington Beach, Calif., just unveiled Echo Ranger’s bigger brother – the Echo Seeker.
Echo Seeker enables ocean access capabilities beyond those of Echo Ranger, offering potential customers a larger UUV with increased depth, endurance and payload capabilities. Echo Seeker’s ability to dive to depths deeper than other submersibles makes it unique, but one of the most significant team accomplishments is the systems’ autonomy.
Operating at 20,000 feet, the vehicle must be able to determine how and when to quit – either when energy is nearly depleted or if a problem occurs – and return safely to the surface; that is an approximately four-mile journey with no human interaction.
Having completed initial testing and verified full vehicle functionality, the next steps for Echo Seeker include payload evaluation and other potential survey studies/projects similar to the one Echo Ranger completed earlier this year with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Echo Ranger was used to survey the former USS Independence, a World War II aircraft carrier that was scuttled 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Learn more about Boeing’s Echo Seeker here.