Ghost Shark: Anduril Australia’s XL-AUV


In a press release by Anduril Australia dated 12 December 2022, the naming ceremony held in Sydney Harbour was highlighted.

The stealthy extra-large autonomous undersea vehicle program (XL-AUV) being developed by Anduril Australia was named ‘Ghost Shark’ by Defence in a ceremony on Sydney Harbour today.

The ceremony included the arrival of a 2.8 tonne ‘Dive-LD’ autonomous submarine at Anduril Australia’s Sydney Harbour base, which will be leveraged for rapid testing and development. The Dive-LD has arrived ahead of schedule in a major step forward in the $140M partnership between Royal Australian Navy, Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and Anduril Australia to design, develop and manufacture three Ghost Shark XL-AUVs in Australia.

The Ghost Shark program will deliver affordable, autonomous, long endurance and multimission capable submarines. They will be modular, customisable, and optimised with a variety of payloads for a wide range of missions.

The 5.8m long Dive-LD will be used by Anduril Australia’s engineers as a testbed vehicle to enable experimentation, testing and validation as it develops the XL version, which will be the size of a school bus. The ambitious three-year Ghost Shark development program will involve capability assessment and prototyping in record time.

The Dive-LD, which has a 3D printed exterior, can autonomously conduct missions for up to 10 days along the seafloor at up to 6,000 meters ocean depth. Like the Dive-LD, the Ghost Shark XL-AUV will be capable of a wide range of deployment options.

Head of Navy Capability Rear Admiral Peter Quinn said the name ‘Ghost Shark’ signifies that software-driven autonomous systems are a force multiplier for Defence.

“Ghost Shark will join Ghost Bat and other autonomous systems as our investment in smart AI enabled technologies come to fruition. Our recently released RAS-AI Campaign Plan includes the rapid development of combat ready prototypes to accelerate operational deployment of game changing capabilities such as Ghost Shark.

“The benefit of Anduril’s software-first approach is that we can reprogram mid-mission and switch payloads in and out. Software enabled autonomy can significantly increase Navy’s capabilities, but it becomes even more potent when integrated into sophisticated and cost-effective hardware systems,” said RADM Quinn.

Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro said: “This is a great example of our innovation system in action. We have long recognised that we need to transition innovative concepts into capability more quickly.

“By collaborating with our industry and Navy colleagues in DSTG we are able to co-develop critical capability that meets our specific needs much faster. Anduril in Australia’s engineering team led by Dr. Shane Arnott brings together Anduril’s software smarts with leading hardware solutions using novel manufacturing processes,” said Prof Monro.

“The Ghost Shark program is a significant investment in Australian industrial capabilities,” said David Goodrich, OAM, Exec Chairman and CEO, Anduril Australia.

“We see Australia becoming a leading exporter of cutting-edge autonomous capability to the rest of the world and are very focused on developing the Australian supply chain and growing together. There are significant opportunities for Australian industry as Anduril Australia begins to manufacture at scale and export,” said Mr Goodrich.

Dr Shane Arnott, Senior Vice President Engineering, Anduril said that three prototype XLAUVs will be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy over three years, with a manufactureready vehicle at the end of 2025.

“Each prototype will be iterative using agile engineering approaches; we’re not just building three of the same vehicle.

“The subsea domain is extremely complex and the new frontier for exploitation of autonomous technologies. With the advances we’re bringing on this program, we’ll be able to take more of the dull, dirty and dangerous missions from the crewed submarines, freeing them up to do more complex missions,” said Dr Arnott.