People Innovation Excellence

U.S. Navy’s Drone Boat Swarm Practices Harbor Defense

Drone boats belonging to the U.S. Navy have begun learning to work together like a swarm with a shared hive mind. Two years ago, they would have individually reacted to possible threats by all swarming over like a chaotic group of kids learning to play soccer for the first time. Now the drone boats have showed that they can cooperate intelligently as a team to defend a harbor area against intruders.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) held its latest robot swarm demonstration in the lower Chesapeake Bay off the Virginia coast for about a month. Four drone boats showed off their improved control and navigation software by patrolling an area of 4 nautical miles by 4 nautical miles.

If they spotted a possible threat, the swarm of roboboats would collectively decide which of them would go track and trail the intruder vessel. In the future, such drone boats could act as a first line of defense by scouting and screening for larger Navy warships manned by sailors.

“We envision unmanned boats doing protection missions, escort missions, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions,”…[Read more]


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