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Technology Factsheet


Category: Robotics > Characterization and Inspection > Underwater System
Reference # : Model No :

The Bluefin-21 is a highly modular autonomous underwater vehicle able to carry multiple sensors and payloads at once. It boasts a high energy capacity that enables extended operations even at the greatest depths. The Bluefin-21 has immense capability but is also flexible enough to operate from various ships of opportunity worldwide.

This is the UAV being used to search for the Malaysian Airliner in the Indian Ocean.

The Bluefin 21 has a built-in safety feature which forces it to return to the surface once its limit is exceeded.

Site: *
Size:Very Large (>100kg/200lb, >120cm/48in)
TRL:Operational (9)
TRL2: *
Tether: *
Waterproof: *
Payload: *
Reach: *
Manipulator: *




This unmanned submarine is to descend 14,800 feet to the ocean floor to try and locate the source of MH370 signals believed to come from the plane's black box.

The vehicle design includes swappable payload sections and battery modules for in-field mission reconfiguration. Subsystems can be quickly accessed for rapid turnaround between missions and also allow for in-field maintenance, accelerating operational tempo.

The Bluefin-21 uses an INS to provide the best possible navigation accuracy. Dead reckoning drift is typically less than 0.1% of distance traveled, yielding higher quality data. USBL aiding further improves navigation accuracy.

Diameter: 21 in (53 cm)
Length: 16.2 ft (493 cm)
Weight (Dry): 1,650 lb (750 kg)

Operational Experience:MH370: How the Bluefin-21 will search for wreckage

Source: Bluefin 21 in Australia MH370 search link

Underwater mission aborted early as search area proves too deep for submarine (15 Apr 2014). The first underwater attempt to locate wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has ended in disappointment after the search area proved too deep for the submersible Bluefin 21 vehicle. Just six hours into an initial planned 16-hour mission, the seabed dropped beyond the sub's maximum depth limit of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet). Source: Bluefin 21 Malaysia airline search link



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