To keep track of increasingly stealthy Russian, Chinese, and Iranian submarines, the U.S. is building a robotic ghost ship - an unmanned, autonomous patrol ship - to follow them around the high seas.
Called the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), the ships will detect and track diesel-powered subs, trailing from an observable distance, reports the Sputnik.
Set to drift in the high seas, the robotic Sea Hunter will silently follow potentially hostile submarines.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been developing an unmanned, 132-foot patrol boat for years. The ACTUV ships will detect and track diesel-powered subs, trailing from an observable distance like that awkward cousin at the family BBQ.
In 2010, DARPA announced that they were building a 132-foot autonomous boat to track quiet, diesel-powered submarines. The program was dubbed Anti-submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV.
The system earlier this year passed a critical test, moving much closer to actual deployment and potentially changing not just naval warfare but also the way humans, ships, and robotic systems interact
across the world's waters.
The next step will be testing the ACTUV’s tracking capabilities. Further down the line, engineers will have to put the vessel through scenarios which involve "enemy ships" attempting to block its navigational systems.
And if all goes according to plan, ACTUVs would prove to be a cost-effective way to monitor ultra-quiet submarines deployed by Russia, China, and Iran. The world's waters could soon be crowded with robot ships that almost never hit land.