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Navy testing stealthy robot tuna

The Navy's tuna robot can swim where humans can't or shouldn't. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — It looks like a tuna and swims like a tuna, but the Navy’s “biomimetic autonomous artificial fish UUV” is an underwater drone that could protect fighting forces by going where people can’t or shouldn’t.

The GhostSwimmer undersea vehicle  — nicknamed Silent NEMO — was recently tested  near the Joint Expeditionary Base, near Norfolk.

Approximately 5 feet long and weighing about 100 pounds, the GhostSwimmer can operate in water depths ranging from 10 inches to 300 feet.

Unlike other underwater vehicles, the GhostSwimmer doesn’t have a propeller.

“It swims just like a fish does — by oscillating its tail fin back and forth,” says Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems group.

The Navy says that by looking and acting like a fish,  the vehicle can be used in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The robot can operate for long periods of time on a powerful lithium-ion battery, and can be controlled with a laptop with a 500-foot fiber-optic tether.

If the GhostSwimmer is run without the tether, it would have to come to the water’s surface to download its data.

The tuna-sized devices have been gathering data on tides, currents, wakes and weather conditions during recent testing.

“GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe,” says Rufo.

Watch the GhostSwimmer underwater:

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(h/t Popular Science )

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