DARPA unveils plans for undersea payloads that surface on command

DARPA already intends to set a drone ship out to sea, and now it’s revealed plans for undersea payloads that lie dormant for years and launch themselves to the surface when remotely commanded. Dubbed Upward Falling Payloads, the containers will carry non-lethal cargo such as small UAVs or networking hardware, and take advantage of the “cheap stealth” their position underwater grants them. Since the vision is to have a fleet of UFPs spread throughout ocean floors, it’ll help the Navy “get close to the areas we need to affect, or become widely distributed without delay,” according to DARPA Program Manager Andy Coon. DARPA is aiming to tap engineering talent from telecom companies to the oil exploration industry in order to solve challenges such as communications used to wake up payload nodes and launching them to the surface. There’s no word on when UFPs will begin lurking sea floors, but DARPA is already looking for proposals to help build them.


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