U.S. launches drone from submerged submarine successfully

The evolution of drones continues.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on Thursday announced it successfully launched a drone from a submerged submarine.

The technology is being pursued to give sailors additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities.

Some of the funding for the project came from SwampWorks, a program of the Office of Naval Research that focuses on innovative and cutting-edge technologies.

"Developing disruptive technologies and quickly getting them into the hands of our sailors is what our SwampWorks program is all about," said Craig A. Hughes, acting director of innovation at Office of Naval Research. "This demonstration really underpins ONR's dedication and ability to address emerging fleet priorities."

The drone, or unmanned aerial system, was launched from a torpedo tube on the USS Providence, the Navy said in a news release.

The drone itself was inside a launch vehicle called the Sea Robin that fit inside the torpedo tube.

Once launched, the Sea Robin made its way to the ocean surface and, upon command, the drone itself launched from there, the Navy said.

The drone, powered with electric fuel cells, then flew for hours, streaming live video back to Navy officials.

Unlike other projects that can take decades to produce results, the technology to launch a drone from a submerged submarine took just six years from concept to demonstration, the Navy said.

"This six-year effort represents the best in collaboration of a Navy laboratory and industry to produce a technology that meets the needs of the special operations community," said Warren Schultz, program developer and manager at the Naval Research Laboratory. "The creativity and resourcefulness brought to this project by a unique team of scientists and engineers represents an unprecedented paradigm shift in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) propulsion and launch systems."

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