California-based defense technology company Anduril Industries announced it is entering into commercial negotiations with the Australian defense ministry for a US$100 million co-funded design, development and manufacturing program for Extra Large Autonomous Undersea Vehicles (XL-AUVs) for the Royal Australian Navy.
The company made the announcement after adding unmanned underwater vehicle technology to its portfolio with the acquisition of Boston-based AUV start-up Dive Technologies in February this year.
Anduril says the proposed Australian XL-AUV would be an affordable, autonomous, long endurance, multi-mission capable AUV. It is modular, customizable and can be optimized with a variety of payloads for a wide range of military and non-military missions such as advanced intelligence, infrastructure inspection, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting.
The company said its approach to development of the XL-AUV would deliver the vehicle at a fraction of the cost of existing undersea capabilities in radically lower timeframes.
“The three-year XL-AUV development program has an incredibly ambitious delivery schedule which will involve capability assessment and prototyping in record time using Anduril’s agile capability development systems.”
A total of three prototypes are set to delivered to the Royal Australian Navy over the three-year life of the program.
The XL-AUVs will be designed, developed and manufactured in Australia, with Anduril promising to hire dozens of employees in high skilled roles. In addition, the company said it would actively partner with other Australian SMEs and the research and technology communities to source nearly all elements of the supply chain for the program.
“The XL-AUV project is a significant investment in Australian industrial capabilities,” said David Goodrich, OAM, executive chairman and CEO, Anduril Australia. “Through this partnership, Anduril Australia will become a major player in the thriving defence industrial base in Australia and contribute to Australia becoming a leading exporter of cutting-edge autonomous capability to the rest of the world.”
“There is a clear need for an XL-AUV built in Australia, for Australia,” said Palmer Luckey, Anduril founder. “The XL-AUV will harness the latest developments in autonomy, edge computing, sensor fusion, propulsion and robotics to bring advanced capability to the Royal Australian Navy.”