October 05, 2014

U.S. Navy Tests Robot Boat Swarm to Overwhelm Enemies

Featuring Paul Scharre

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Journalist Jeremy Hsu

  A fleet of U.S. Navy boats approached an enemy vessel like sharks circling their prey. The scene might not seem so remarkable compared to any of the Navy's usual patrol activities, but in this case, part of an exercise conducted by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), the boats operated without any direct human control: they acted as a robot boat swarm.

The tests on Virginia's James River this past summer represented the first large-scale military demonstration of a swarm of autonomous boats designed to overwhelm enemies. This capability points to a future where the U.S. Navy and other militaries may deploy underwater, surface, and flying robotic vehicles to defend themselves or attack a hostile force.

"What's new about the James River test was having five USVs [unmanned surface vessels] operating together with no humans on board," said Robert Brizzolara, an ONR program manager.

Read the full article at IEEE Spectrum.

  • Paul Scharre

    Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is author of the forthcoming book, A...