Friday, April 22, 2016

Autonomous warships get smarter

2016 is shaping up to be the year of the robot warship.
Two trends are converging: the development of highly autonomous unmanned surface ships that can function individually, and the development of swarm control systems that enable flotillas of unmanned ships to operate as a cohesive formation, again with minimal human intervention.
The first of these occurred in April in Portland, Oregon, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Navy christened a large robotic submarine hunter called the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel. ACTUV is a 132-foot-long unmanned surface vessel designed to detect and track ultra-quiet diesel submarines.
In September comes a demonstration of Unmanned Surface Vessel Swarm, an Office of Naval Research project to create groups of small boats that can function as a team. The first demonstration was held in August 2014 on the James River in Virginia when five small, unmanned boats showcased the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) system. The CARACaS-controlled boats escorted a high-value naval target and swarmed any remote-controlled "enemy" vessels that approached the convoy.  more