A minesweeping robot boat will protect the Navy's expensive new baby

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Devindra Hardawar
November 10, 2014 2:27 PM
A minesweeping robot boat will protect the Navy's expensive new baby

We first heard the Navy was developing a minesweeping robot boat last year, but now it's closer to a reality. Dubbed the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), it'll accompany the Navy's new, high-tech Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to explore and detonate explosives in suspected minefields. The Navy tapped Textron Systems last September to develop a UISS prototype for 2016, along with six complete ships by 2019. While it's not our military's first robotic vessel, it may end up being one of the first that's more than a glorified patrol ship.

The UISS will basically be the LCS's minesweeping buddy. It uses an acoustic generator and a magnetic cable to trick mines into thinking it's a much larger ship. Naturally, the UISS should be able to take major blasts -- at least more so than the Littoral Combat Ship, which can be sunk with just a single anti-ship missile. The LCS isn't meant for large-scale naval battles, though; instead it's designed for tackling small fast-attack boats in waters too shallow for bigger ships. Even so, the fact that it can't really take a hit has come under criticism since it cost a whopping $37 billion to develop.

[Photo: A UISS prototype/U.S Navy]

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