With its Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), developed as a technology demonstrator, passing muster in extensive trials, the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL) in Visakhapatnam will “make a few more of the same” for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions by the Navy and agencies like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited for safeguarding offshore installations.

The NSTL is a facility of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

In his first media interaction after taking over as Director-General (Naval Systems and Materials) at the DRDO last week, V. Bhujanga Rao told The Hindu here that the flatfish-shaped, 1.7-tonne reconfigurable vehicle capable of carrying payloads of up to 500 kg would now be converted into an operational platform. Separately, the DRDO would work on a yet-to-be sanctioned Rs. 250-crore programme for developing a range of AUVs for a variety of roles as force multipliers. (As first reported by The Hindu , the agency is keen on developing mammoth AUVs, weighing 12 tonnes, which could function as submadrones under its secret Autonomous Sea Vehicle programme, which is similar to the U.S. Navy’s Manta Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Programme.)