NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The Navy demonstrated unmanned surface vessels (USV) Wednesday as a part of an annual fleet experiment, Trident Warrior.
As futuristic as the concept of unmanned surface vessels is, USV's have been around since World War II.
But the 21st century version of these vessels are far more advanced that their 1940s counterparts. The USVs of today are not remote controlled boats like their predecessors.
"There are no people involved unless you want to be involved. They do their own behaviors. The brain does everything we need it to and it does it all by itself," said Capt. Carl Conti, the Fleet Experimentation Director.
The rotating laser found atop the USV surveys the environment around the vessel, feeding its' electronic brain with information about approaching boats so that it may take appropriate action.
Potential threats identified by the USV will hear, "If you continue to proceed on your current course, you will be sailing into danger. I repeat, you are entering a restricted area."
"It's a little unnerving, yeah. I was just hoping they do pull away in time," said Boat Captain Rich Najarain.
Najarain works for the Navy and was at the helm of the boat being used to challenge the USVs during the experiment. If he is unnerved by the robotic vessels imagine the effect they could have on a real adversary who is unfamiliar with this technology.
"That's exactly our mission is to make this unnerving. And if we can have the terrorist think twice about coming anywhere near us because of technology like this, then we're doing our job," said Conti.
This is the same technology NASA used for the Mars rover. These vessels will be protecting the fleet soon.
While the USVs do operate on their own during Wednesday's experiment people were on board as a safety measure, just in case the USV challenged a civilian boat in the water that wasn't aware of the experiment.
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