We have drones in the sky, and maybe someday we'll have self-driving cars on the roads, so why shouldn't we have unmanned vehicles in the water as well? The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) — pronounced “active” — was originally conceived as a project to create an unmanned underwater drone that could track enemy submarines. But the project has grown in scope since its conception. DARPA has already finished construction of a submarine called the Sea Hunter that is a “ continuous trail unmanned vessel for anti-submarine warfare” according to the agency. The ship is driven by artificial intelligence and requires no crew whatsoever.
While other unmanned water vessels have been limited by their need to be deployed from a larger ship and remotely-controlled, the 120-foot Sea Hunter is autonomous and designed to be able to launch from a pier and function on its own for up to months at a time and travel for thousands of miles. The ship, which was built by defense contractor Leidos, is currently undergoing trials as part of a joint project with the U.S. Office of Naval Research.
(Image source: DARPA)