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US Navy Successfully Demonstrates Swarming of Unmanned Surface Vehicles

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:31AM

In recent years we have seen an explosion of unmanned vehicles and vehicles capable of directing themselves, such as small drones and self-driving cars. Such vehicles are not limited to the land and air though, as the Office of Naval Research has been developing Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) that could be used to protect manned ships. Now ONR researchers have successfully completed tests on a system giving these USVs swarm capability.

Swarming has long been a focus of robotics and artificial intelligence research, as it allows groups of individual actors to act as one, more powerful force. By bringing it to USVs, the vehicles are able to quickly respond to threats and work together, such as plotting out routes to interdict other vessels. The technology for automating the boats, called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing), can fit into transportable kits and can be installed into most boats. It was also recently demonstrated in the James River in Virginia by as many as 13 boats acting to escort a Navy ship, and swarm a threatening ship.

The future of these boats and system is to deploy them to protect larger, manned ships, and to send them into dangerous situations, instead of Sailors or Marines. The boats would have offensive capabilities for deterring or destroying adversaries, but weapons fire could only be initiated by a supervising Sailor.



Source: Office of Naval Research

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