In the 1990s, CIA’s Office of Advanced Technologies
created “Charlie,” a robotic catfish, to study the feasibility of unmanned underwater
vehicles (UUVs) and other aquatic robot technologies for intelligence collection purposes.
Charlie’s design capabilities included speed, endurance, maneuverability, depth control,
navigational accuracy, autonomy, and radio communications.
Charlie contains a pressure hull, ballast system, and communications system in the body
and a propulsion system in the tail. A wireless line-of-sight radio handset provides control.
Charlie’s mission was to collect water samples undetected.