Not taking risks with unmanned systems ‘may not be an option,’ says former submarine warfare officer
The United States Navy plans to develop autonomous “robot” ships over the next few years and use artificial intelligence to replace sailors in battle.
- Tom Shugart, senior fellow in the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security and former Navy submarine warfare officer, said there are technological and programmatic risks associated with unmanned ships but not taking those risks “may not be an option” due to the threat the Chinese military poses.
- Autonomous ships would help in the Navy’s efforts to better distribute ships and make them more difficult to hit, said Shugart.
- He said the U.S. has conducted exercises for these systems but most vessels are still in the prototyping phase.
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This unmanned surface vessel, part of the Strategic Capabilities Office’s Ghost Fleet Overlord program, recently made a trip from the Gulf Coast to the coast of California, almost entirely by traveling autonomously. In December, it participated in exercise Dawn Blitz, where it also demonstrated its autonomous capabilities (Photo by Defense Department Strategic Capabilities Office/U.S. Defense Department)
The Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle demonstrates tactical capabilities during a training scenario where it is approached by an unidentified ship (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Andrenay Gorham/Released)