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Defense firm develops high-tech robotic boat for the Navy [video]

April 13, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan



Drone aircraft have played a central role in modern warfare, taking out targets with missile strikes in the skies above battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

But the same robotic revolution hasn't taken place on the world's oceans.

Textron Inc., maker of the RQ-7 Shadow spy drones used by the  Army and Marine Corps, has developed a ship drone for the Navy that the company envisions carrying out a variety of missions, including minesweeping, submarine spotting, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The company demostrated the ship, dubbed Common Unmanned Surface Vessel, to the Associated Press at Textron Marine & Land Systems shipyard in New Orleans. The company has yet to land a contract with the sleek, slate-gray vessel.

Textron told the AP that the 39-foot boat can be “controlled remotely from 10 to 12 miles away from a command station on land, at sea or in the air.” The article also stated that the ship can be switched to autonomous mode, which by using satellite signals could expand its range to 1,200 miles.

Textron displayed the ship’s autonomy last July in Norfolk, Va., at a Navy event called Trident Warrior, in which new technologies are demonstrated.

The AP said that sometime this summer, the vessel will head to Camp Pendleton to demonstrate it's capable of carrying out minesweeping missions.


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