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Autonomous Swarmboats: New Missions, Safe Harbors


Swarmboats in operation.

Researchers from the U.S. Office of Naval Research have developed a swarm of autonomous rigid hull inflatable boats that can collectively perform patrol missions autonomously, with remote human supervision.

Credit: Pinterest

Researchers from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) used a combination of software, radar, and other sensors to develop a swarm of autonomous rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and other small boats that can collectively perform patrol missions autonomously, with only remote human supervision.

"While previous work had focused on autonomous protection of high-value ships, this time we were focused on harbor approach defense," says ONR military deputy Cmdr. Luis Molina.

The technology, Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, consists of inexpensive components. In addition, "the autonomy technology we are developing for our sailors and marines is versatile enough that it will assist them in performing many different missions, and it will help keep them safer," says ONR researcher Robert Brizzolara.

During a demonstration earlier this year, the unmanned boats were given a large area of open water to patrol. As an unknown vessel entered the area, the group of swarmbots collaboratively determined which patrol boat would quickly approach the unknown vessel, classify it as harmless or suspicious, and communicate with other swarmbots to assist.

"This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary," Molina says.

From Office of Naval Research
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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