Robot Ships of the U.S. Navy Can Operate Autonomously

110720-N-ZZ999-007 FORT MONROE, Va. (July 20, 2011) A common unmanned surface vehicle patrols for intruders during Trident Warrior 2011. The experimental boat can operate autonomously or by remote. The Trident Warrior experiment, directed by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, temporarily deploys advanced capabilities on ships to collect real-world data and feedback during an underway experimentation period. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Youngblood/Released)

FORT MONROE, Va. (July 20, 2011) A common unmanned surface vehicle patrols for intruders during Trident Warrior 2011. The experimental boat can operate autonomously or by remote. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Youngblood/Released)

With all the concern over autonomous robots in the military, one would think that they are more of a future concern than reality.  However, the U.S. Navy has operated robot ships for many years and continues to develop advanced capabilities for those autonomous ships.

I saw this article on the progress of new robot ships in America’s Navy and did some research on some of these craft.  Although photos exist for some of the more recent developments, the ones shown here from several years ago are still relevant for the showing the capabilities of these bot ships.

Robot Ship

Bluefin-12 AUV with a Buried Object Scanning Sonar (BOSS) integrated in two wings. This picture was taken in January 2005 of the coast of Florida during engineering trials.By Mierlo at English Wikipedia [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

In order to counter the threat of diesel-electric submarines, the U.S Navy wants to develop these autonomous sub-hunters.  Diesel-electric subs are very cost effective compared to a nuclear attack boat and they can operate very quietly.  So, these subs are difficult to detect and even though they have limited range, pose a significant threat.

The primary motivation for developing these robot ships is cost.  They can operate in shallow waters and survey large areas to identify threats.  The robot ships will not attack, but will call in other navy assets to deal with the targets.

Work on the U.S. Navy’s new anti-submarine drone is progressing and that’s bad news for diesel-electric subs.

The prototype of the ACTUV is named Sea Hunter and is due to begin sea trials in the fall of this year.  Then the decision will be made on deployment of these vessels.

Robot Ship

The prototype of the U.S. Navy’s robot ship is the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) Image Credit: darpa.mil

What do you think about these robot ships?  The military seems to be set on developing autonomous vehicles of all kinds.  Although these ships will not be armed, but they will have to be able to correctly identify threats from other surface ships and other objects on and under the water.  These robot ships will have to operate for months autonomously and probably at great distances from other support vessels if the details of these designs are correct.

Perhaps the robot ships will have human monitors to oversee their operations and take the helm if needed.  It is hard to believe the robotic craft would be purely autonomous at all times.

Let me know with your comments.

Source: US Navy to Deploy Robot Ships to Track Chinese and Russian Subs

Robot Ocean Gliders

Researchers are preparing to send forth a swarm of underwater gliders for a mission to explore the tropical Atlantic.  Information on temperature, salinity, oxygen and chlorophyll content as well as the turbidity of the sea water will be measured and sent back to the scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany. 

As reported on the website at IFM-GEOMAR,  “A very successful mission using a single glider took place between August and October 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean, south of the Cape Verde Islands. The robot carried out measurements along a more than 1000 kilometres long track autonomously, before it was recovered by the German research vessel METEOR. The data collected are accessible online at http://gliderweb.ifm-geomar.de/html/ifm03_depl05_frame.html.”

Now a fleet of these torpedo-like craft will venture out to document the ocean properties in the tropical Atlantic.  Read the entire story from TG Daily at the link below, and then see all other articles on this in the other stories link.

TG Daily

Europe's largest fleet of underwater robot gliders is about to embark on its first research mission in the tropical Atlantic. The gliders, operated by
See all stories on this topic

Robot gliders take to the seas
TG Daily
Fri, 15 Jan 2010 13:39:15 GMT

Fishbots: Robots Mimic Swimming Motions of Schools of Fish

Robotic fish that swim like a bass or trout are the latest crossover from biology to robotics.  Mechanical engineers Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  have designed the elegant fishbots to maneuver deftly into areas where more conventional underwater remotely operated or autonomous vehicles are unable to reach. “Schools” of the new robot fish could be utilized to carry-out inspections of underwater structures such as oil and gas pipes; ship’s hulls; and perhaps help detect environmental hazards.  They could also find uses in patrolling ports, rivers, and lakes.  Unlike earlier robotic fish, these robots are much simpler in design and are much more like their natural models.  Read more about these amazing machines in the stories linked below.



Credit:  CNET News

New robots mimic fish's swimming
PhysOrg.com
As part of his doctoral thesis, Valdivia Y Alvarado created a model to calculate the optimal material properties distributions along the robot's body to
Schools of Mini Robofish Swim Where Humans Can'tWired News
MIT dives into robo-fish poolCNET News
MIT researchers create robotic fish for underwater explorationVentureBeat
all 9 news articles »

New robots mimic fish's swimming – PhysOrg.com
Mon, 24 Aug 2009 22:12:25 GMT

Remotely Operated Vehicle Test in Lake

Today, I tested a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in a local lake.  So this post is going to be something different for RobotNext.  I recommend this project for anyone who wants to try out an underwater robot. Technically speaking, this is not a robot as such.  It is a remotely operated vehicle controlled by a tether to a control box and power on the surface.  This vehicle was constructed in less than two days in a total of about twelve hours.  Using the ROV in a Box from !nventivity, our teachers’ group at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas built three of these machines.  All I can say is that it was a blast.  

In the video taken from my phone, you can see the robot powering around and then diving under the water.  There will be more testing of these ROVs in weeks to come.  Also, look at the photos of my ROV on the edge of the water.  Not bad for a two day effort. 

Video Credit:  Mike Henry

Here is a photo of the ROV on the edge of the lake.  Note the blue pool noodles used as flotation devices to keep the robot at neutral buoyancy.

Mike's Phone 169

Photo Credit:  Mike Henry

Note the black cylinder object at the back of the ROV.  That is a color camera and below it is a 10 led light to illuminate features in the water.  Images can be seen on a television screen.  The three motors have propellers and give power and control in 3 directions.

Mike's Phone 170

Photo Credit:  Mike Henry

Weekly Newswrap: Leftover Stuff

This week’s Newwrap is best described as leftovers.  These stories are like the food remaining after a big dinner:  I didn't want to throw them out because they could still make a good meal.  

Again, the subjects range all over the place.  A robot in a wedding dress walks down the runway at a fashion show in Japan is today’s entry.  There are also underwater robots, surgical robots, and robots to help humans.  Finally, from the beginning of the week, there are the robots that may advertise on the Moon.  Quite an eclectic group of stories to look at for this week.  I hope you enjoy them.

Robot Hits Runway at Osaka Fashion Show

Tokyo, Jul 26 (PTI) Japanese scientists have made a robot in an elaborate wedding dress walk down the runway at an Osaka fashion show, a development seen as
See all stories on this topic

Robot hits runway at Osaka fashion show
Press Trust of India – New Delhi,India
Sun, 26 Jul 2009 13:16:19 GMT

Robby the Robot goes underwater (St. Tammany News)

Robotics, especially underwater robotics is still a new profession. Used by oil and gas companies to repair underwater pipelines and drilling platforms, underwater robots have replaced human divers in dangerous depths that can crush a human diver.

Robby the Robot goes underwater (St. Tammany News)
Thu, 23 Jul 2009 15:27:29 GMT

High-tech robot allows doctors to treat soldiers remotely

Dr. Kevin Chung appears on the screen of the robot that helps him treat soldiers from afar. A revolutionary robot mounted with a high-tech camera is helping
See all stories on this topic

High-tech robot allows doctors to treat soldiers remotely
CNN International – USA
Thu, 23 Jul 2009 13:44:26 GMT

Archie robot wants to helps humans despite creepy appearance – DVICE

Archie robot wants to helps humans despite creepy appearance
DVICE
Though it may look crude on its surface, the fact is that the Archie robot is the result of a lot of hard work by researchers at the Vienna University of

Archie robot wants to helps humans despite creepy appearance – DVICE
Wed, 22 Jul 2009 08:28:28 GMT

Robots to Advertise on the Moon

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, July 20 /PRNewswire/ — It's one giant leap for robot-kind. New Shadow Shaping technology creates images on the Moon that can be
See all stories on this topic

Robots to Advertise on the Moon
PR Newswire (press release) – New York,NY,USA
Mon, 20 Jul 2009 11:19:26 GMT

RobotNext Weekly Newswrap

This week’s newswrap features stories that deal with exploration.  Everything from underwater to climate in the arctic and beyond the Earth.  One story from earlier in the week deals with robot navigation in different situations.  Still, this story does cover an aspect of robotics that is important in exploration.  I hope you enjoy looking over the articles linked to below.  Let me know which ones you liked best.

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India

Washington, July 5 (ANI): A team of scientists is developing novel underwater laser networking and imaging technologies that will be used onboard a group of small, co-operating robots, which will be able to rapidly identify and communicate potential …

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India
Sun, 05 Jul 2009 06:15:00 GMT

 

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)

"'We're going to have to do extensive robotic exploration,' says the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, suggesting nanotechnology to build self-replicating robots on Mars. Genetically engineering extraction and construction microbes could 'grow' electrical components, and eventually convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. 'If we really want to settle Mars, and we …

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)
Thu, 02 Jul 2009 13:36:25 GMT


Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic

Earlier this year NOAA warned that increased global warming was combining with natural variability in the Arctic and could result in an ice-free Arctic in as little as 30 years, rather than the end of the century as predict by earlier models. This has created a sense of urgency among organizations studying the changes. NOAA and NASA have combined forces with Northrop Grumman to create a specially modified Global Hawk UAV that will make 6 long duration mission over the Arctic and the Pacific ocean to collect data in troposphere and lower stratosphere. .

Meanwhile, Seaglider robots have been deployed off Greenland to make more accurate measurements of Arctic sea currents. Scientist believe the Arctic runoff is already altering the density of sea water in the Labrador Sea, driving critical ocean circulation that affect the global climate.  Canada is also deploying two AUVs to scan the seabed to further their claims in the coming UN Convention that will determine which nations get sovereign rights to the new ocean areas forming as the Arctic melts.

Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 16:41:32 GMT


Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2009) — A robotic vision system that mimics key visual functions of the human brain promises to let robots maneuver quickly and
See all stories on this topic

Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally
Science Daily (press release) – USA
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 15:48:20 GMT


Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars

Caltech scientists are working on intelligent exploratory craft which could investigate alien worlds without human instruction. While missions to MARS can be remotely controlled, as we set our sights further afield the light speed
The Daily Galaxy: Great Discoveries… – http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/

Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars
Casey Kazan Daily Galaxy Editorial Staff
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 22:11:52 GMT