By: Megan Eckstein, USNI News
“The Office of Naval Research demonstrated for the second time the ability to turn already-fielded small boats into unmanned autonomous systems and use them for missions like harbor defense, two ONR program officials told reporters this week.
A month-long demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia allowed ONR to prove that the 7-meter and 11-meter boats that had been converted to autonomous unmanned surface vehicles could not only perceive their surroundings and plan their routes accordingly while performing a mission, as was demonstrated two years ago, but could also now work as a group to delegate tasks, select appropriate behaviors from a behavior library in response to events around them, and identify nearby vessels as friendly or unfriendly after matching what they see to a pre-programmed database of ships they could encounter.
This demonstration, called “Swarm 2, Mission: Safe Harbor,” proved that with minimal human supervision these four unmanned boats could carry out a tactically relevant mission at sea, Small Combatant Craft Program Officer Robert Brizzolara told reporters Wednesday.”
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