The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program to develop a long-endurance autonomous ship.
Under NOMARS, DARPA is seeking a vessel that could operate completely unmanned at sea for longer periods of time. DARPA said in the BAA it wants to ‘explore the NOMARS design space from Conceptual Design Review (CoDR) through Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and system definition.’
DARPA has set aside $41m for the development of the programme and design of the NOMARS platform, which should be able to operate for up to a year at sea before requiring maintenance. The agency at this time does not plan to build an operational vessel, but rather an ‘X-ship’ demonstrator that can be used as a proof of concept for the NOMARS.
The No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program seeks to design a ship that can operate autonomously for long durations at sea, enabling a clean-sheet ship design process that eliminates design considerations associated with crew. NOMARS focuses on exploring novel approaches to the design of the seaframe (the ship without mission systems) while accommodating representative payload size, weight, and power.
NOMARS aims to challenge the traditional naval architecture model, designing a seaframe from the ground up with no provision, allowance, or expectation for humans at sea. By removing the human element from all ship design considerations, the program intends to demonstrate significant advantages, to include size, cost, at-sea reliability, survivability to sea-state, and survivability to adversary actions such as stealth considerations and resistance to tampering. The program also will strive for greater hydrodynamic efficiency via hull optimization without requirements for crew safety or comfort.