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Talk-30: Challenges in Operating Long-Duration Maritime USVs

Alex Lorman, ThayerMahan

In the last three years ThayerMahan has gained valuable experience operating a growing fleet of WaveGlider USVs for our government and military clients. These missions have lasted up to 90 days in the open ocean, with all communications done via satellite.

We will present some of the hardware and software challenges we face in our ongoing operations, along with some of our solutions. Specifically:

  • Brief Overview of TM unmanned systems
    • Outpost, ThayerMahan's passive acoustic system
    • Seawatch, ThayerMahan's electronic warfare platform
    • New designs
  • Heading and position sensing.
    • Overview of high-speed, high-repeatability heading sensing systems
    • The advantages of RTK moving-baseline systems on small vehicles (and their limitations)
    • Optimizing for low SWaP on unmanned systems
  • Waterproofing
    • Why you can't always trust manufacturers ratings
    • Where ThayerMahan has seen failures
    • Practical solutions to waterproofing 3d prints for the ocean
  • Communications Systems
    • Overview of communications systems by price and bandwidth
    • Proven data on the above systems by reliability and connection time
    • Where to send the data coming from the vehicle


  • USVs
  • Long Duration Missions