I found this story pretty interesting, future here today. I look at it as Terminator today. Imagine men in a bunker somewhere remotely fighting wars? Sound far fetched? It is here today and will get into mainstream more and more.
The US military is testing the technology for Sea Hunter, the first ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), a 132 feet long autonomous drone ship designed to track enemy submarines. The ship is designed to be unmanned and operate autonomously and/or by remote control. Each ACTUV is expected to cost around $20 million dollars. The project was initiated by the Pentagon research group, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Navy could move to the next phase of development by 2018. If the project is successful it could have a major impact on the role of drones in both maritime security and ship operations.
The US Navy is facing the challenge of countering the potential threat from a new generation of diesel-electric submarines. The new submarines are more silent and stealthy than nuclear submarines and far cheaper to build and operate. The concern is that China, Iran or some other nation might be able to send a fleet of these subs toward the United States and overwhelm US anti-submarine tracking capabilities. The idea is to counter this threat by using a fleet of unmanned drone ships to detect and continuously track diesel-electric submarines.
Will the ACTUV work? The first round of testing has gone well. As reported by Defense One:
In six weeks of tests along a 35-nautical mile stretch of water off of Mississippi, testers at engineering company Leidos and DARPA put theACTUV’s systems through 100 different scenarios. The test boat, equipped with nothing more than off-the-shelf radar components, a digital area chart and some proprietary software, was able to complete an autonomous trip without crashing into rocks, shoals, or erratically behaving surface vessels. In future tests, the ship will tail a target boat at 1 kilometer’s distance.
Most importantly, the tests showed that the robot boat could execute a difficult military mission without violating the maritime laws outlined in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. They also provided a critical proof-of-concept for machine-learning systems at sea, showing that big robots can, indeed, navigate the open seas along with cruise ships and shrimp boats. The next big challenge for the ACTUV will be the same kind of tests, but with “enemy ships” trying to block or interfere with it.
Courtesy of Old Salt Blog.
See the video here!