Washington State University (WSU) has unveiled a new unmanned semi-submarine to support covert military operations.
With a length of only 1.5 feet (46 centimeters), the underwater vehicle features 3D-printed parts and has a low signature, making it hard to detect.
About 90 percent of the semi-submarine stays submerged in the water, with only 10 percent above the surface.
According to project lead Konstantin Matveev, the system’s main advantage is its ability to maintain a low profile while moving through the water.
“It has less wave thread, so it can sustain rough seas. It can move across oceans at a relatively small size,” he said in a news release.
A prototype of the semi-submarine was trialed in a pool before it was taken to the Snake River in Eastern Washington for speed tests.
The team behind the development of the mini-submarine is hoping that the new vehicle can be used to serve the US military efficiently.
It can carry payloads such as fuel or munitions and approach enemy shores unseen.
It also has a small platform for air exposure to receive and transmit data for surveillance.
Although the semi-submarine is not wholly autonomous, researchers at WSU said it can be pre-programmed to maneuver by itself, avoid potential obstacles, and pursue targets.
The vehicle is also reportedly cost-effective, consuming less fuel during missions.