The U.S. Navy is Getting into the Aquatic Attack Drone Business

The U.S. Navy is Getting into the Aquatic Attack Drone Business

Yar, there be robots patrollin' the seven seas, thanks to NASA-developed technology.

A new video from the United States Office of Naval Research shows that the self-named "Global Force for Good" is getting ready to deploy self-driving, largely-autonomous drones as part of its massive fleet.

The technology behind the drone boats is called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or CARACaS for short, and it was originally developed by NASA for the Mars Exploration Rover project. Purpose-built drone watercraft are certainly in the Navy's future, but this CARACaS kit is portable, and be fitted into virtually exiting naval vessel. Once installed, the craft requires no human involvement other than whatever standard boat maintenance is required.

Not only can CARACaS-equipped boats operate autonomously, they can also work in teams. Thanks to the baked-in artificial intelligence, a small fleet of "swarm boats" can be deployed on interdiction missions, escort missions, or standard patrols. And the boats being targeted for CARACaS are indeed small -- patrol boats of varying sizes (not battleships...yet).

"Our Sailors and Marines can't fight tomorrow's battles using yesterday's technology," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. "This kind of breakthrough is the result of the Navy's long-term support for innovative research in science and technology."

This kind of autonomous aquatic hardware is being framed as a defensive for now, but it doesn't take much imagination to see a boat drone with an off-site gunner/controller in the future.

Source: Navy ONR

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Now, did I heard correctly that they will operate autonomously and swarm on enemy threats?

Yes, let's give Skynet more toys.

Delance:
Now, did I heard correctly that they will operate autonomously and swarm on enemy threats?

Yes, let's give Skynet more toys.

Eh, first time there's a blue on blue (or a decent hacking), these things might well find themselves scrapped.

Actually, an autonomous weapon...is that not very much the same as a landmine? Something even the US has stopped using?

The phrase "swarm enemy threats" worries me somewhat. That phrase does not immediately bring drone controlled boats to mind but rather some kind of experimental robotic piranha, which I now have to assume is the natural evolution of this technology.

Point of order, Navy: You are required to make them play the Jaws theme while in operation.

I dont see the point of this. The ridge raider boats are primarily used on board and inspect mission. You can't stop a ship, check its documents and search its hold with a drone boat.

Anyone else reminded by the video of this

thaluikhain:

Eh, first time there's a blue on blue (or a decent hacking), these things might well find themselves scrapped.

It seems there have been FF incidents with air drones, and they were not scrapped.

thaluikhain:
Actually, an autonomous weapon...is that not very much the same as a landmine? Something even the US has stopped using?

Well, landmines are passive weapons. I think the US stopped using for humanitarian reasons.

thaluikhain:
Actually, an autonomous weapon...is that not very much the same as a landmine? Something even the US has stopped using?

The US has not stopped using land mines. The Protocol on Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices does not prohibit the use of anti-vehicle mines, anti-personnel mines in clearly cordoned off areas (like the border between North Korea and South Korea) or anti-personnel mines that are designed to no longer be a threat after the war's over.

These boats would not be prohibited because the third point clearly applies - even if it is possible to give the drone a "engage at your discretion" order, that does not mean you cannot rescind that order.

FalloutJack:
Point of order, Navy: You are required to make them play the Jaws theme while in operation.

I know one of the guys working on this project, I'll see what he can do.

Grumman:

The US has not stopped using land mines. The Protocol on Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices does not prohibit the use of anti-vehicle mines, anti-personnel mines in clearly cordoned off areas (like the border between North Korea and South Korea) or anti-personnel mines that are designed to no longer be a threat after the war's over.

Actually the US still use Anti-personnel mines.
The M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition is an example of an AP mine still in use.

The US, Russia and China never signed the Ottawa treaty.

The thing the US stopped using was persistent land mines.
Those are mines that stay active indefinitely.
The US still uses mines that self destruct after a certain time period.
The M86 self-destructs after 4 hours for example.

The reason was not about any particular humanitarian reason, but because US soldiers often found them selves having to walk through US scattered mine fields.

OT: Singapore's been using something like that for almost a decade.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protector_USV

Hell Mexico's bought a few.

TheSYLOH:
Actually the US still use Anti-personnel mines.
The M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition is an example of an AP mine still in use.

The US, Russia and China never signed the Ottawa treaty.

The thing the US stopped using was persistent land mines.
Those are mines that stay active indefinitely.
The US still uses mines that self destruct after a certain time period.
The M86 self-destructs after 4 hours for example.

I know, that's why I said "anti-personnel mines that are designed to no longer be a threat after the war's over."

Delance:

thaluikhain:

Eh, first time there's a blue on blue (or a decent hacking), these things might well find themselves scrapped.

It seems there have been FF incidents with air drones, and they were not scrapped.

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

thaluikhain:

Delance:

thaluikhain:

Eh, first time there's a blue on blue (or a decent hacking), these things might well find themselves scrapped.

It seems there have been FF incidents with air drones, and they were not scrapped.

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Right, but if I'm interpreting the article correctly, these drones patrol autonomously but don't have autonomous weapons capability. If they were to install a weapon system, it'd be controlled by a remote person, not the boat's AI.

Gorrath:

thaluikhain:

Delance:

It seems there have been FF incidents with air drones, and they were not scrapped.

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Right, but if I'm interpreting the article correctly, these drones patrol autonomously but don't have autonomous weapons capability. If they were to install a weapon system, it'd be controlled by a remote person, not the boat's AI.

Oh sure, but the person I was responding to seemed to be talking about something more than that.

thaluikhain:

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Good point. It's probably a good idea, too. I wonder why they plan on making the sea drones autonomous.

thaluikhain:

Gorrath:

thaluikhain:

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Right, but if I'm interpreting the article correctly, these drones patrol autonomously but don't have autonomous weapons capability. If they were to install a weapon system, it'd be controlled by a remote person, not the boat's AI.

Oh sure, but the person I was responding to seemed to be talking about something more than that.

Gotcha, sorry for the misunderstanding.

I don't understand how these are supposed to be better than flying drones.

Delance:

thaluikhain:

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Good point. It's probably a good idea, too. I wonder why they plan on making the sea drones autonomous.

Long sea patrols are tedious and would lead to quick fatigue for a human operator. I imagine you want the boats to do autonomous patrols and alert a command station if they spot something out of the ordinary. Then a human operator can take control and have a look-see and engage with weapons if need be.

Delance:

thaluikhain:

They aren't autonomous, though, they are a weapon used by an operator you can have a talk with.

Good point. It's probably a good idea, too. I wonder why they plan on making the sea drones autonomous.

Can't say for sure, but I'd imagine the "technology is awesome" people are fighting the "hang on, this could be bad" people.

Gorrath:
Long sea patrols are tedious and would lead to quick fatigue for a human operator. I imagine you want the boats to do autonomous patrols and alert a command station if they spot something out of the ordinary. Then a human operator can take control and have a look-see and engage with weapons if need be.

That seems reasonable.

Gorrath:
[quote="Delance" post="7.862464.21485066"]
Long sea patrols are tedious and would lead to quick fatigue for a human operator. I imagine you want the boats to do autonomous patrols and alert a command station if they spot something out of the ordinary. Then a human operator can take control and have a look-see and engage with weapons if need be.

Now that makes sense. If there isn't a human pulling the trigger, you have some big ethical/moral/legal problems to deal with. That's kind of the problem with, say, robotic turrets.

http://singularityhub.com/2010/12/16/south-koreas-robot-machine-gun-turret-can-see-you-coming-3-km-away/

Delance:

Gorrath:
[quote="Delance" post="7.862464.21485066"]
Long sea patrols are tedious and would lead to quick fatigue for a human operator. I imagine you want the boats to do autonomous patrols and alert a command station if they spot something out of the ordinary. Then a human operator can take control and have a look-see and engage with weapons if need be.

Now that makes sense. If there isn't a human pulling the trigger, you have some big ethical/moral/legal problems to deal with. That's kind of the problem with, say, robotic turrets.

http://singularityhub.com/2010/12/16/south-koreas-robot-machine-gun-turret-can-see-you-coming-3-km-away/

Right, AI being allowed to take its own initiative in firing is something that should be reserved for only a few very specific circumstances. Anti-missile guns are one such instance where it should be okay to let an AI do the tracking/firing on its own. Anything designed to target humans needs to have a human assess the situation before opening fire. Thankfully those turrets in the link you provide do have that setting. I doubt South Korea would have them set to fire without checking first, even though they are capable of it. Good read, thanks for linking that.

 

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