One of the latest technological innovations out of the U.S. Navy allows a swarm of boats to surround, defend or destroy targets without any human assistance or presence at all.
The autonomous tech known as CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing) was originally developed by NASA for Mars rovers, and can be installed on any boat to let it act independently or as part of a “swarm” to “automate ship self defense and be able to deter, damage or destroy an enemy threat,” according to the Office of Naval Research.
Attacks like the one against the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, which left 17 sailors dead, could be prevented using swarm technology. According to a Navy press release, a supervising sailor must OK weapons activation before the unmanned boats can fire on a target.
“Our Sailors and Marines can’t fight tomorrow’s battles using yesterday’s technology,” Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said in the release. “This kind of breakthrough is the result of the Navy’s long-term support for innovative research in science and technology.”
The Navy successfully tested the tech over two weeks in August on Virginia’s James River, where as many as 13 boats conducted test operations autonomously or by remote control. The office reports the same technology could eventually be applied to aerial drones as well.