The Buzz

This Is How U.S. Navy Plans to Dominate the Wars of the Future

For instance, a current underwater drone called the Seaglider uses buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion as opposed to an electrically driven propeller. For long periods of time it is able to gather oceanographic data, such as water column temperature or salinity, collecting the data and then sending it back.

Emerging POSYDON technology could also be of great use to Virginia-class attack submarines and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines working to establish navigational parameters, identify objects of interest and even pinpoint threat locations at greater distances.

In fact, the Navy is now experimenting with undersea drones that are able to launch and return from submarine missile tubes, improving mission efficiency and expediting launch and recovery operations. Therefore, being able to precisely identify the location of operational UUVs in a given area of operations would be of great value.

Given that much of the technology relies upon fast-developing algorithms, rapid progress in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) is important to this effort.

This trajectory will ultimately likely lead to the use of more AI, drawing upon more independent, computer-driven unmanned systems to gather, organize and integrate a vast array of different information and sensor data before providing it to human commanders.

Groups of  undersea drones will soon simultaneously use sonar and different sensors to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, search for mines, collect oceanographic data and conduct reconnaissance missions -- all while a single human performs command and control functions aboard a Navy ship or submarine, senior Navy officials explained.

Perhaps several submarine-launched underwater robots or large-displacement unmanned undersea vehicles could identify a threatening enemy submarine or surface vessel at distances far beyond the normal detection range.

The idea is to capitalize upon the increasing speed of computer processing and rapid improvements in the development of autonomous vehicle software.. This will allow unmanned systems to quickly operate with an improved level of autonomy, function together as part of an integrated network, and more quickly perform a wider range of functions without needing every individual task controlled by humans. The strategy is also aimed at enabling submarines, surface ships and some land-based operations to take advantage of these fast-emerging computer technologies.

Perhaps a number of small drones could send out an acoustic ping and then analyze the return signal to pinpoint the location of a threatening enemy target, providing a submarine with the necessary data to launch a precision-guided heavyweight torpedo to destroy the threat from a safer distance.

Integrated drone groups would then instantly relay pertinent data to underwater or ship-board computing systems and sensors. As a result, humans in a command and control function would have access to relevant information faster and more efficiently, providing a larger window with which to make critical decisions, senior Navy officials explained.

This first appeared in Scout Warrior here