Excellence in Marine Manufacturing – Anduril’s Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
Today Editorial Series from @AuManufacturing Excellence in Marine Manufacturing examines Anduril Industries’ extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle for local manufacturing and how manufacturing is helping the company disrupt the defense industry.
Getting defense capabilities from concept to final product stage can take a long time – manufacturing can follow years or even decades after proposals are first aired.
But a California-based company, which has partnered with the Australian Defense Force to develop an extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle (XL-AUV, pictured), shows that lead times can be reduced by using new manufacturing concepts.
The company grew from scratch in 2017 to six sites in Southern California, Massachusetts and Georgia totaling nearly 150,000 square feet that have turned many prototypes into products manufactured in the thousands for defense customers.
And now Anduril will bring these manufacturing concepts to Australia – it is in negotiations for a US$100 million co-funded design, development and manufacturing program for XL-AUVs for the Royal Australian Navy.
Anduril has established a Sydney-based Asia Pacific operation with Chief Technology Officer David Goodrich who has roles at Gilmour Space Technologies and Emesent as CEO.
The XL-AUV will be an affordable, autonomous, long-endurance, multi-mission, modular, customizable AUV with a variety of payloads for missions such as advanced intelligence, infrastructure inspection, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting.
Anduril’s approach to developing the XL-AUV will deliver the vehicle at a fraction of the cost of existing underwater capabilities in drastically shorter time frames.
Anduril founder Palmer Luckey said: “There is a clear need for an Australian-built XL-AUV, for Australia.
“The XL-AUV will harness the latest developments in autonomy, advanced computing, sensor fusion, propulsion and robotics to bring advanced capabilities to the Royal Australian Navy.”
An XL-AUV development program calls for three prototypes to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in just three years.
In 2020, Anduril became the youngest company to win a program with the United States government since the end of the Korean War with its Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST) program.
Anduril also began developing an end-to-end counter-drone solution in 2019, which the United States Special Operations Command named its system of choice in a $1 billion deal in 2022.
To speed up production, Anduril makes no distinction between design and production engineering – they work as one team and have access to production equipment during the design process.
Manufacturing Engineer Dana Paz said, “Our mechanical and electrical engineers iterate their designs on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
“We work closely with them to limit the number of hours between design and testing.
“To enable such a rapid development cycle, our mechanical and electrical development lab has a ‘one-size-fits-all’…from multi-axis machining to sheet metal fabrication, including MIG and TIG welding. and 3D printing. »
That means an engineer can test a new part on Monday, update their CAD model that evening, have the new part built overnight, and be back in the field by Tuesday morning, according to the company.
Data drives both design and production, with the entire process optimized for flexibility.
Although the company has strategically increased the importance of manufacturing, it has not forgotten the lessons learned from industries such as automotive, medical devices and consumer electronics.
“We try to manufacture complicated parts on a large scale. This is a difficult problem, but not unsolved.
“Many fundamental Lean Manufacturing concepts, such as division of labor, waste disposal, and Kanban inventory control are directly applicable to Anduril.”
The editorial series from @AuManufacturing Excellence in Marine Manufacturing is brought to you with the support of BAE Systems Australia.
Photo: Anduril Industries
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