Defense Media Network

NSWC Crane and Hydronalix sign CRADA for AISUM Prize Challenge

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) and Hydronalix, Inc. of Green Valley, Arizona, have signed a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA) entitled AISUM Prize Challenge Hardware Support.  Agreement number: NCRADA-NSWCCD-21-419.  NSWC Crane is hosting an Artificial Intelligence for Small Unit Maneuver (AISUM) Prize Challenge with contestants from industry and academia. With the strategic goals of developing software that can be supported by a variety of hardware, non-proprietary robotic autonomy baseline component architecture and software were required. This collaboration is anticipated to fulfill the need for a developmental platform prototype for demonstrating AI algorithms in support of Small Unit Maneuver and Counter-UAS Autonomy research.

Algorithm development (provided by AISUM contestants) will be for artificial intelligence, navigation, object detection, and mapping of enclosed spaces.

The new ADAPT UAS Hydronalix platform will be built or modified to support the hardware requirements needed to demonstrate algorithm development objectives of navigation, mapping, and object recognition in enclosed spaces in a representative contested environment. The new ADAPT UAS will provide competitors with a stable flying aircraft, without use of GPS and able to position hold with lost C2 link, that also has a sense and compute payload that can be used for open source algorithm development and testing. Algorithm development (provided by AISUM contestants) will be for artificial intelligence, navigation, object detection, and mapping of enclosed spaces.  The new ADAPT drone to be used in project was operated with USMC 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization (LEON) in EUCOM USN 6th Fleet Baltic Operations Exercise in June 2021, for vessel to shore re-supply missions.  The UAS was developed by Hydronalix under a SBIR Phase I and II program funded by ONR and managed by NAVSEA.

Hydronalix CEO, Anthony Mulligan says that “we are pleased to enter into this CRADA with NSWC Crane as it will aid us in keeping our disposable UAS drone technology at the leading edge to assist in keeping the warfighter out of harm’s way.  We look forward to working closely with Scientist at NSWC Crane and leading UAS research teams from around the country.”

“Hydronalix has demonstrated successful quality control performance in their adaptive manufacturing process, competitive product pricing, and the ability to source quality and open architecture sUAS components from other US manufacturers,” said Blake Busey, the NSWC Crane hardware lead on the project. “NSWC Crane is excited to collaborate with Hydronalix, utilizing their manufacturing and integration expertise, in support of a AISUM Prize Challenge common demonstrator platform.”

NSWC Crane will be responsible for providing design requirements and any key performance parameters, and to receive equipment and test with beta team. NSWC Crane will also oversee safety of flight and operation of aircraft prior to algorithm contestant takeover and safety override as required and will coordinate as needed between Hydronalix and AISUM Prize Challenge Contestants. Hydronalix will be responsible for integration of sense and compute payload that meets SWAP and other requirements onto quantity of no less than 12 units, integration of safety measure for safety override during flight, and providing training or training materials for the safe operation of aircraft.

TogetherNSWC Crane and Hydronalix will be responsible for collaboration on new techniques and procedures, jointly present, publish and seek associated intellectual property, and design optimization, testing, and coordination.  The program will carry thru June 2022.  For more information contact Blake Busey at, or Drey Platt at