Space Technology has a number of spin offs and the latest in this series is the US Navy’s robotic patrol boats with no sailors on board. The technology has been adapted from the NASA Rovers which are now moving around the red planet trying to find traces of life.
The US Navy will be using armed, robotic patrol boats which will not have any sailors onboard to guide and protect warships through sensitive sea lanes. It will completely transform the way American Navy operates.
Results of an extraordinary demonstration which took place in August and involved 13 Robotic patrol craft escorting a ship along the James River in Virginia was released by the Office of Naval Research.
The Office of Naval Research on Sunday released the results of what it called an unprecedented demonstration in August involving 13 robotic patrol craft escorting a ship along the James River in Virginia.
In a simulated setting, five robotic patrol boats guarded a larger ship and 8 other crafts were asked to investigate a suspicious vessel. The target was swarmed and encircled by the unmanned patrol boats enabling the mother ship to move unhindered and safely through the area.
The simulation was conducted to replicate the conditions seen in a transit through a strait, naval research Chief Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder told reporters in a recent briefing.
The scenario fits the straits of Malacca or it could be the straits of Hormuz. Describing the demonstration as a breakthrough which has gone far beyond any previous experiment, Matthew Klunder said that within a year robotic patrol craft will be escorting US Naval Ships.
The patrol craft is 11 meter long vessels and is known in military jargon as rigid hulled inflatable boats and are operated by 3 to 4 sailors, with the robotic system, a single sailor can control at least 20 of these vessels.
No shots have been fired in this demonstration however Matthew adds that the robotic craft can be easily armed with a 50 caliber machine guns. The vessel can fire any ship if ordered by the sailor who is operating the craft.
“We have every intention to use those unmanned systems to engage a threat. There is always a human in the loop of that designation of the target and if so, the destruction of the target.”