Saab's Underwater Drone Will Hunt For Aquatic Explosives

Swedish fishing for IEDs

Sea Wasp Concept Art
Sea Wasp Concept Art
Unmanned, underwater, unafraid of unexploded unknowns.Saab

Landmines are a bad day waiting to happen. The classic explosives, used in war for centuries, hide in plain sight, waiting for someone unfortunate enough to set them off. Sea mines are a similar peril, only threatening whole boats at a time. And while there are plenty of robots that can find the bombs on land, there aren't that many which can do the trick in water, especially close to shore. The Sea WASP stands for "Waterborne Anti-IED Security Platform." Made by Sweden defense and auto giant Saab, the Sea WASP is an underwater drone made to find Improvised Explosive Devices under the water's surface.

It takes two people to operate the Sea Wasp. The robot is tethered, with 500 feet of cord to let it explore depths of up to 200 feet. On land, the whole 5.5-foot long machine weighs about 200 pounds. It has forward-looking sonar, several sensors for depth and navigation, and two cameras: a big one on the front of the vehicle, and another one on the grabber arm.

From Saab:

Sea Wasp represents a significant change in underwater operations against IEDs and similar threats by allowing bomb technicians to conduct underwater intervention for both improvised and conventional munitions. Designed to be operated by a small EOD/IEDD team – as few as two persons – the system can easily be configured to meet the specific requirements of any mission. Transportable over land in a light support vehicle, the Sea Wasp can be deployed from harbour walls or the beach. It can also be fitted to bespoke surface support vessels, and is flexible enough to be loaded into multiple varieties of boat, for example vessels of opportunity (VOO), rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) and work boats, depending on the demands of the mission.

Once the Sea Wasp has found the device, it will disposes of them similar to how ground robots would. That means human technicians would watch video as the robot handles the explosive, and then determine if it's harmless, can be dismantled, and/or needs to be blown up far away from people and ships.

Mines are an old weapon of war, and improvised explosive devices are no different. Finding a safe way to identify and neutralize those weapons is important for any modern military, and making sure that bomb disposal doesn’t stop at the water’s edge is in everyone’s best interests, too.