And now, the robot ship

“Anti-mine warfare is a critical mission for the Navy, as nations like Iran can mess with the global economy just by threatening to plant mines in crucial commercial waterways,” reports DangerRoom today.

“Ashton, the Navy’s program manager for its seafaring robots, has a different idea:


Let the robots do the dirty work. By April, he tells Danger Room, he hopes to solicit defense contractors to build something called the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, or UISS, a robotic ship charged with speeding out into suspected minefields and essentially fooling them into detonating them before they come in contact with a ship full of sailors. If the UISS works as intended, it’ll be part of a fleet of near-future Navy robot ships and subs designed to neutralize some of the most immediate threats on the high seas.

“The idea is to launch the UISS from a Littoral Combat Ship, the new close-to-shore fighter that the Navy wants to be the mine-stopper of the future, among its other missions. Currently, minesweeping is a task for manned ships and helicopters like the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship and the MH-53 helo. “This would be the first unmanned sweep system [for a] surface capability,” Ashton says, something “a lot of countries are looking at” but none have yet succeeded in developing. It works by playing a kind of practical joke on a minefield.


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