ASTM International Standards Initiative to Drive Evolution in Unmanned Undersea Vehicles

 New ASTM Committee to Develop Standards That Will Facilitate New System Designs and Industry Growth

ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations (SDOs) in the world, today announced the formation of ASTM Committee F41 on Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Systems. This important standards initiative was driven by the cooperative efforts of the United States Navy and UUV industry stakeholders to facilitate new UUV system designs and enable next-generation applications.

Critical Role in Oceanographic Research, Commercial and Military Applications

UUVs have a notable history dating back to the early 1980s. Early systems built on their manned submersible predecessors and helped transform oceanographic research during the decade. Used by the academic community in notable deep-sea expeditions, such as the discovery and exploration of the wreck of the Titanic, UUVs have played a critical role in ocean surveying, environmental monitoring, and related applications.

More recently, UUVs have emerged in commercial applications such as seabed surveying for the oil and gas industries, and in the deployment of high-speed underwater fiber-optic cables for the telecommunications industry. On the military side, specially designed UUVs have played an essential role in defense-related missions, such as the location and destruction of underwater mines following the Gulf War.

UUV Growth and Evolution: ASTM Standards Will Help Lead the Way

Today’s UUV industry includes two classes of systems: remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are attached to a mother-ship by a long cable; and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which operate without a tether. To better meet the challenges of emerging applications, existing UUV systems must evolve with new technology. Specific areas of need include greater interoperability among various UUV platforms, additional autonomic controls, and improved UUV-to-ship communications and interfaces. The first step in the evolution of UUV technology is the development of consensus industry standards that address future product safety, performance and proficiency.

Fast and Efficient Standards Development Through the ASTM Process

Led by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the premier trade association for the unmanned systems industry, UUV stakeholders selected ASTM International as the SDO best suited for the development of new international industry standards. With a proven consensus process and state-of-the-art standards development infrastructure, ASTM International was best positioned to enable the rapid development of standards in response to immediate industry needs. The formation of ASTM Committee F41 is the second unmanned vehicle committee under the ASTM umbrella, joining ASTM Committee F38 on Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems.

"AUVSI is pleased to assist Committee F41 in facilitating the development of consensus UUV standards for government and industry stakeholders," comments John D. Lambert, first vice president of AUVSI. "This will be a focused effort on an aggressive timeline. We will initially develop a selected number of high priority standards to meet the needs of the UUV Master Plan for open architecture and modular systems."

Public/Private Sector Collaboration under the ASTM Umbrella

ASTM Committee F41 is another example of the long-standing partnership between the public and private sectors in developing consensus standards under the ASTM International process. F41 brings together technical experts from the UUV industry, federal government, trade associations and academia to develop voluntary consensus standards pertaining to UUV design, safety and performance including autonomy and control architecture, communications, and mission payload interfaces.

The committee will hold its next meeting in October 2005. Industry feedback and comments should be directed to Pat A. Picariello, director of developmental operations, (phone: 610/832-9720; For more information visit


Release #7209

August 1, 2005

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