Google unveils America’s secret drone: hidden weapon exposed

Last week, a sharp-eyed Google Maps user may have unveiled one of the U.S. Navy’s most cutting-edge projects. The prototype Manta-Ray underwater drone was spotted lounging at Port Hueneme Naval Base in sunny California. The Manta Ray is a highly intriguing project, with many of its abilities shrouded in mystery. 

It’s worth noting that it’s not exactly Google’s doing that the U.S. Navy, alongside Northrop Grumman, let the Manta Ray linger long enough for Google Earth’s satellites to catch a sneak peek during one of their scheduled orbits. If you’re curious, the coordinates were disclosed in a user’s X post featuring the snapshot and a 3D animation: 34°09’12″N 119°12’31″W. 

This does beg the question of why Google didn’t blur out this specific section of Port Hueneme. After all, there are instances where they do just that if requested by the military or if the site is deemed crucial to U.S. national security. Will this oversight spell trouble for the Manta Ray? Probably not. However, it’s a reminder that in today’s tech-savvy world, where cutting-edge tools are within everyone’s grasp, such slip-ups might have lingering repercussions.

What in-water tests did the American Manta Ray UUV prototype conduct
Photo credit: DARPA

The Northrop Grumman Manta-Ray drone is an advanced underwater autonomous vehicle for long-duration missions. It represents a significant leap in underwater drone technology, aiming to enhance the capabilities of naval operations through extended endurance and advanced autonomy. 

The Manta Ray drone is characterized by its sleek, manta ray-inspired design, which contributes to its hydrodynamic efficiency. While specific dimensions are not publicly disclosed, the design is optimized for stealth and endurance, allowing it to operate effectively in various underwater environments. 

The Manta Ray is equipped with a range of sophisticated systems, including advanced sensors for navigation, communication, and environmental monitoring. It also features autonomous decision-making capabilities, enabling it to perform complex tasks without direct human intervention. 

What in-water tests did the American Manta Ray UUV prototype conduct
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman

Operational capabilities of the Manta Ray include long-term deployment without the need for human maintenance or intervention. This is achieved through innovative energy management systems and the ability to harvest energy from the environment, such as through solar or thermal sources. 

The primary purpose of the Northrop Grumman Manta-Ray drone is to support naval operations by performing tasks such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and environmental monitoring. Its ability to operate autonomously for extended periods makes it a valuable asset for missions that require sustained underwater presence. 

In addition to military applications, the Manta Ray’s advanced technology can be leveraged for scientific research, including oceanographic studies and environmental monitoring. Its autonomous capabilities and endurance make it suitable for gathering data in remote or challenging underwater environments.

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