We all know that Boeing makes some stellar commercial aircraft, but did you know they also make submarines? That’s not all, the company has now created an autonomous vessel that can roam the oceans for months.
The 51-foot Echo Voyager was designed as a data capture device. The oceans are still a relative mystery and we can find minerals, oil reserves and more if we can accurately map and analyze the depths of the oceans. Boeing’s submarines recently took part in a National Oceanic Administration study and Coda Octopus, which collected a number of 3D images of the sunken USS Independence.
Boeing has already produced two other undersea, unmanned vehicles, the Echo Seeker and Echo Ranger, and has been involved with undersea exploration for about 50 years. The other vehicles in the line-up are limited to just a few days running and Boeing now describes them as simple test beds.
With a hew hybrid, rechargeable power system, the Echo Voyager can keep going for months. It can also surface regularly, extend an antenna and transmit all the data that it has collected at depths up to 11,000 feet.
The benefits don’t stop there, this underwater vehicle can launch from a port and doesn’t need a support vessel. That could save a great deal of money and it has caught the military’s attention. That’s because this submarine has a wealth of military applications and can even deliver payloads, which sounds like an ominous euphemism.
Aerospace companies can help us all
Boeing and other aerospace giants like Airbus are helping drive development in a number of different areas. As well as submarines, Boeing recently revealed self-cleaning bathrooms, which will obviously have a wider reach that its planes. Boeing Phantom Works is responsible for this and other skunk works programs, but the manufacturer is clearly proud of its mission to the bottom of the sea.
Airbus recently revealed the lightweight Light Rider motorcycle, made of a lightweight aluminum alloy that is as hard as titanium. It has also taken great strides in the world of 3D printing and unmanned drones, which are currently at work over the Singapore University campus as part of a test program.
Aerospace companies are always pushing the envelope to create more efficient, cleaner and more profitable aircraft. But some of this technology has a wider use and it’s always interesting to see what the major manufacturers can cook up when they put their mind to other things.