The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) has reportedly made a technological breakthrough that will allow any unmanned surface vehicle (USV) to not only protect Navy ships, but also, for the first time, autonomously “swarm” offensively on hostile vessels.
The technology—called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing)—is under development by ONR, and can be put into a transportable kit and installed on almost any boat. It allows boats to operate autonomously, without a sailor physically needing to be at the controls—including operating in sync with other unmanned vessels; choosing their own routes; swarming to interdict enemy vessels; and escorting/protecting naval assets.
In the future, the capability could scale to include even greater numbers of USVs and even to other platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
“This multiplies combat power by allowing CARACaS-enabled boats to do some of the dangerous work,” said Dr. Robert Brizzolara, program manager at ONR.
“It will remove our sailors and marines from many dangerous situations—for instance when they need to approach hostile or suspicious vessels. If an adversary were to fire on the USVs, no humans would be at risk.”
Any weapons fire from the USVs would need to be initiated by a sailor supervising the mission.