MUCH is made of the potential of flying drones. But drones are useful at sea, too. Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), as they are known technically, are employed for things ranging from prospecting for oil and gas to naval warfare. Like their aerial cousins, though, ocean-going drones have limited ranges—limits that are often imposed by their batteries.

At the moment those batteries are usually either alkaline or lead-acid. Lithium-ion batteries, fashionable elsewhere, have not conquered the UUV world. Their tendency to catch fire counts against them. And they are sensitive to pressure, which is undesirable in devices that operate underwater. But a firm in Massachusetts, called Open Water Power (OWP), is offering an alternative: batteries based on aluminium. With these, its engineers hope to extend the ranges of underwater drones tenfold.

Read more: Unmanned underwater vehicles: Aluminium batteries could let submarine drones range farther | The Economist

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Published by Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future. He lives in London with a single android - a temperamental vacuum cleaner - but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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Unmanned underwater vehicles: Aluminium batteries could let submarine …

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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