The Royal Navy is interested in progressing its use of uncrewed surface and underwater vehicles which have a unique propulsion system and/or design based on physical animal behaviours.

The Royal Navy say in a Request for Information that evolutionary biomechanics move away from using a traditional thruster, to those inspired by the flapping fins of swimming animals such as rays, penguins and turtles.

“Examples of this may include, but not be limited to how a dolphin manoeuvres underwater, or how a sea snake swims on the surface.”

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Concept from 2017 showing ‘snake like’ uncrewed underwater vehicles.

The RFI points out that it was published as the Royal Navy aims to understand the technology that already exists in the commercial sector as a view for potential future investment.

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More cocnepts from 2017.

The RFI aims to achieve 4 outcomes:

  1. Detailed understanding of current and potential technology as informed by evolutionary biomechanics.
  2. Detailed understanding of industry use cases of this technology.
  3. Align the MOD requirement with industry capability and processes for procurement of the required solution.
  4. Generate a procurement/development strategy that will maximise capability development within this innovative area.

The MoD are keen to stress:

“This RFI is an information gathering exercise, no further discussions with industry are planned at this stage however any future procurement activity will be advertised in line with public procurement regulations on the Defence Sourcing Portal and Contracts Finder.”

Full details of RFI0013 ‘Animal Biomechanics and Behaviours’ can be found by clicking here.

Another 2017 concept

Back in 2017, the Royal Navy unveiled a series of futuristic submarine concepts which mimic real marine lifeforms and radically change the way underwater warfare could look in 50 years.

“With a crewed mothership shaped like a manta ray, unmanned eel-like vessels equipped with sensor pods which dissolve on demand to avoid enemy detection, and fish-shaped torpedoes sent to swarm against enemy targets, these concepts aim to inspire the world’s future underwater combat environment. The UK’s brightest and most talented young engineers and scientists came up with the designs after being challenged by the Royal Navy to imagine what a future submarine would look like and how it would be used to keep Britain safe in decades to come.”

You can read more about the 2017 unveiling here.

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

I admit I read that headline too quickly and thought for a moment the RN were looking at animal propulsion!!!  🙄 

Related, I don’t think it is any coincidence that many UFO reports have the phenomenon moving like a fly. Imagine an unmanned vehicle ( which removes G limits on a crew ) with that manoeuvrability.

Such sightings have been seen near Area 51.

Wilhelm Beller
Wilhelm Beller
1 month ago

A bunch of Dolphins tied to the front of a Type 45 might be more reliable than the actual engines.

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

I hear they have Patrick Duffy as a consultant , no wait that was all a dream:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOOiVY1LOKw

Last edited 1 month ago by farouk
coll
coll
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk
Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Hms Atlantis Hms Dallas christened and Launched by Mr Duffy Britbox

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

You are so going to need to be of a certain age to get that reference!

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

So did I Daniele, tether a couple of blue whales to the T31 bow and away you go……

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

🤣

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

Yet more evidence to prove you’re employed by RAF Luton. 🙂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

😆☝️

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

This is not really a new idea and has been looked at in the past.

The issue aways was that the technology wasn’t really there to make it work at scale and/or with the power levels needed for useful speed.

Now that loitering UAV’s are more of a thing and not everything needs to be able to sprint at 40kts there is more likely to be a place for this. Particularly at the very quiet end of the spectrum or where blending in with animal noises is a good idea.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

Oh well, sailors are “in vogue” this season, so bring on Flipper  😅 

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Can’t wait to see matlots with snake hips

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Usually stewards  😅 

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl

Good old Crumb brushes

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

The bottom picture looks like the flying saucer out of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

flying-sub-deluxe-edition_voyage-to-the-bottom-of-the-sea_gallery_5c4d1038707b7.jpg
Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

I can’t be the only one who heard “Standby for action !” when I read this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45NtEXv7DZs

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I wonder if much progress has been made with marine boy and his Oxy Gum recipe?

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

 😂  I’m sure he’s a retired admiral by now so probably on the board of BAE or the like and all over this stuff.  😉 

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Leading Diver Troy Tempest and AB cd Phones with equality AB AquaMarina Stood to anything could happen in the next half hour

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

 😂  Fair one on Aqua Marina being a CD but I’m claiming Troy and Phones as submariners.  😄 

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

They were rather pale yes I agree both can be put down as Sundodgerrs

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I was thinking more of this:

abeabe1f1cabbd32ebd7e481f266217f[1].png
Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Its no Stingray but maybe more what the Mob is looking at with the whole pretend fish thing. Bet they’re still hot bunking too.  😞 

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Put the tender out for this and BAE wouldn’t stand a chance Gerry Anderson would sweep the ocean with their designs

Andy
Andy
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Funny, that. I thought exactly the same thing. Had a picture lined up and discovered that you beat me to it. 1964…..just think

7b3a99a71198a5bcec1e90fe75c1e4cc.jpg
Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
1 month ago

Mimicking animal propulsion: will that result in more moving parts? surely that is not as efficient as screw or water jet drives?

Gary
Gary
1 month ago

Possibly, but I expect it will be a lot quieter, thus harder to detect.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi Bringer of Facts,

Not necessarily. New materials that are now increasingly available and affordable can be used to flex to provide the prolusion surfaces. These could be made with varying stiffnesses across a fin with the fin being activated by a small number of actuators, for example.

This is not my area of expertise, but I am aware of work using flexible material in research for variable camber wings sections. Not sure how far it went, but these new materials have the potential to change structures in the future.

Cheers CR

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

At the beginning of aviation, a lot of attempts to mimic nature were made. They all failed- only fixed wing gliding survived.
This navy effort looks like a lot of nonsense pursued by someone with too little to do.

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

there is still work going on though in aviation that is animal-inspired e.g. https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/stories/biomimicry-a-fresh-approach-to-aircraft-innovation.html

Tams
Tams
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

You’re not going to like this, but even aviation is looking towards the animal kingdom again.

The technology wasn’t there before. Humans can’t operate all the movements such vehicles require and the material science wasn’t there. But now we have computers, much more powerful computers, and material science has come an incredibly long way.

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
1 month ago

This is yet another example of Star Trek becoming reality.
In Trek they had a whole deck dedicated to the dolphin crew and I’m sure this new propulsion will need the same.

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Cetacean_Ops

coll
coll
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

Concepts don’t always become reality.

fearlesstunafish
fearlesstunafish
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

i might have agreed with you if you had said seaquest dsv…

coll
coll
1 month ago

I’m sure this news has been around for a couple of years.

fearlesstunafish
fearlesstunafish
1 month ago

seaquest dsv anyone? ;P

JOHNT
JOHNT
1 month ago

Yup my thoughts exactly

PAUL BERGIN
PAUL BERGIN
1 month ago

We were working on a marine engine eco booster which utilises the energy of the passing waves to create hydraulic propulsion to add auxiliary power to the marine engine? Thus saving fuel and money. We could
Re start it if enough interest? Cheers Paul [email protected]

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago

here is a useless fact…
The Gerry Anderson TV show is the reason the RN torpedo is written as Sting Ray and not Stingray…Stingray is copyrighted

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Noted. I’d have just said Stingray. Well I never.