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The US Navy Wants Undersea Gas Stations for Underwater Drones

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Access to undersea gas stations could allow Gavias and other underwater drones to spend more time scanning the seabed, searching for crash survivors or locating enemy mines.

A California company is working on an underwater refueling station that can top off the fuel cells of undersea surveillance drones, allowing the vehicles to venture farther and work longer.

Needless to say, the US Navy is interested in that kind of technology. The sailing branch is even exploring ways to tap sea-bottom thermal vents in order to keep power flowing to underwater gas stations.

Teledyne, based in Thousand Oaks, California, showed off its undersea power station alongside Gavia, the company's popular underwater surveillance drone, at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Maryland in April.

The underwater fuel-cell station stores 200 kilowatts of power and works down to a depth of nearly two miles, according to Defense News. An undersea drone could hook up to the station and charge its own fuel cells. A Gavia can operate for up to five hours on one 1.2-kilowatt charge.

Teledyne is a world leader in undersea electrical equipment that's popular with the oil industry, including water- and pressure-resistant power plugs. The company also builds a wide range of torpedo-like submersible drones that are compatible with different sensors, including sonars and laser scanners.

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