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Watch the US Navy's swarm of robotic boats take to the sea

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 6, 2014
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Overwhelming numbers can help win a sea battle, but sailors are far too valuable to simply throw away -- and the US Navy knows it. To that end, it recently tested a swarm of robotic gunboats that work in tandem to either protect a main warship or surround the enemy. As you can see in the video below, they're very well coordinated. The vehicles' Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) lets them both operate independently while sharing their paths and radar data with each other, keeping them both out of each others' way and aware of any potential threats.

Any fully operational boats would primarily serve as shields, but they would have guns (thankfully, human-operated) to attack lighter targets that don't give up quickly. The Navy doesn't have a definite timeline for when you'd see these drones on the high seas, though. While they work well in a controlled environment like the one you see here, researchers want to improve the onboard sensors so that they can handle a wider range of unexpected situations. You don't want unmanned seacraft running amok in the middle of a firefight, after all.

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