Hopper Drone Poised to Transform Maritime Missions

Hopper Drone Poised to Transform Maritime Missions
MITRE engineers Dave Sheffler and Tyler Paige prepare to launch Hopper for a recent demonstration at Lake Anna State Park in Virginia. (Image credit: MITRE)

MITRE's Hopper uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype, developed in collaboration with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), offers a small, intelligent, autonomous aerial system for maritime environments.

Beyond US Navy campaigns, these include non-military missions like search and rescue, monitoring for illicit activity (e.g., illegal fishing), and detecting meteorological events.

When the ONR asked MITRE to help develop the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance-capable platform, they delivered a tall order: a cost-effective system that could function autonomously across dynamic ocean environments, carry a range of lower-power passive sensors, and use commercial electronic systems.

Our engineers rose to the challenge, designing and fabricating the prototype in less than 24 months.

"It's been inspiring to see Hopper rapidly develop from an idea to flight-capable hardware," says ONR's Lee Mastroianni, program officer for advanced autonomous systems.

"The MITRE team provided a wealth of insight and innovation in support of our naval objectives."



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