• The U.S. Government has granted Aquabotix an explosives license to use with unmanned aquatic vehicles. Photo credit: Aquabotix Ltd.
     The U.S. Government has granted Aquabotix an explosives license to use with unmanned aquatic vehicles. Photo credit: Aquabotix Ltd.

ATF Grants Explosives License to Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Company

October 22, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
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Unmanned aquatic vehicles with explosives-related capabilities could help combat littoral mine threats, Aquabotix says.


The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as the ATF, granted a Federal Explosives License to Aquabotix Ltd. The explosives license will allow the unmanned aquatic vehicle company to develop, manufacture, store and sell unmanned vehicles with explosive capabilities, according to a company statement. 

The Fall River, Massachusetts and Sydney, Australia-based company manufacturers a micro unmanned surface vehicle (USV) known as the SwarmDiver, which has swarming and diving capabilities, and once dispatched into the water can collect data as it dives down and resurfaces. The USV also can operate as a swarm of up to 40 devices. The explosives license allows Aquabotix to conduct activities related to the development and manufacturing of both underwater and surface vehicles, Aquabotix’s Chief Executive Officer Whitney Million explained in the statement.

"Products historically and currently developed and manufactured by the company have capabilities primarily focused on identification of targets," Million stated. "We anticipate that expanding our offerings to cover the neutralization and disablement of targets will open up a much wider range of uses, contracts and customers for Aquabotix, and obtaining this license is a key step in progressing towards that goal.”

In June, the U.S. Navy entered into a special purpose Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the company to examine the capabilities of the micro aquatic robot. Under the CRADA with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, Aquabotix will test and demonstrate the company’s SwarmDiver, as well as other relevant technologies for the Navy and other interested parties, according to the company. The agreement allows Aquabotix to access the NUWC’s Narragansett Bay shallow water test facility just off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island.

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