The cost of developing technologies that solve significant maritime problems has led innovative blue water companies to leverage the research and technologies invented inside the Department of Defense.
Dozens of military laboratories produce hundreds of new inventions each year, many with dual-use applications well-suited for maritime purposes.
For example, a patent application published in March revealed that five researchers from the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego had invented a new fuel cell battery for powering long-term, leave-in-place sensors. The battery could extend the life of drifting or moored autonomous instruments and sensor systems.
The novel battery and the technologies listed below are readily-available to companies through license agreements and TechLink offers interested parties expert guidance at no cost.
Crew rest and fatigue constitute a significant concern for shipping and navigation companies. And a yet to be launched mobile app known as 2B-Alert offers an elegant solution. Powered by a patent-pending algorithm and graphic user interface, the Army-developed app uses sleep and other biometric data to optimize alertness through programmed caffeine consumption.
The Air Force Academy has recently advanced a concept enabling drone operations from moving vessels by overcoming risks of human errors during landing. Image tracking algorithms allow the drone’s camera to identify a unique set of patterns and colors printed on a retrieval net or other recovery surface. The algorithm calculates the coordinates of that object’s center, transmits distance and direction information to the onboard autopilot.
Maritime companies building subsea enclosures for linked arrays will be interested in the Navy’s underwater plow for sensor deployment. The plow assembly uses a sensor chute and a blade trough with a pivoting depressor arm that guides the cable and its sensors so that the cable is buried while the sensors remain on the surface of the seafloor.
With new environmental regulations for ballast water, shipping companies will be interested in this ballast tank design that reduces or eliminates water-mixing during ballast water exchange procedures. Invented at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland, its use can prevent the spread of invasive organisms riding in ballast water.
For businesses developing new products for maritime search and rescue, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School has invented a novel life-preserver locator for rough sea rescues. It works by using a water-activated gas that inflates a lighter-than-air balloon cabled to the life-preserver. And unmanned rescue craft could be stationed and refueled at sea using the remote autonomous refueling buoy also designed by the Navy.
Fisheries compliance monitoring programs use video cameras for onboard catch monitoring. Companies using video technologies for this application may benefit from experimentation at the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Weapons Division in China Lake, California. Researchers there have invented a transmission loss shield for visible and infrared cameras operating in environments saturated with electromagnetic interference.
Maritime captains interested in using the power of computers to save time and fuel through optimized route selection will be interested in the Naval Postgraduate School’s oceanic route finder. The software quickly determines the shortest route between dynamic points X and Y, using an oceanic routing system in which a computer implements spherical mathematics to calculate the shortest route. If Y is not visible from X, the system uses an overlay of vertexes on the globe and navigates from vertex to vertex.
These technologies may offer solutions to environmental and other challenges facing the maritime community. And there are many more DoD inventions with strong potential for commercial applications in the marina. For example:
- BOPPERS: Autonomous Underwater Environmental Monitoring System
- Joint Modular Intermodal Container
- Universal cargo tie-down strap
- Automatic mooring line brake
- Improved Doppler shift and range resolution
- Reusable and environmentally benign conductive polymer appliqué coating
- Determining seafloor density
- Aluminum alloy for paints, anodes, and sacrificial coatings
- Optimizing bandwidth selection for radar transmissions
- Remote geolocation without magnetic North
- Deck plate pin for ultra-high molecular weight composite material
- High-tensile strength chain tool
That’s why we built the only searchable database of military inventions. To give companies across the nation 24/7 access to the fruits of research and development taking place inside dozens of DoD laboratories. These technologies are waiting for innovative businesses to turn them into new products and services – and TechLink’s expert licensing assistance is free.