Drone Speedboats to be Tested in Massive Military Drill “Unmanned Warrior 2016”

MAST drone boatBy Nicholas West

Now that the air is filled with automated weapons of war, the next part of the drone matrix is being built in earnest.

Over the past year we have witnessed several new developments in sea-based autonomous weapons systems that herald a new aspect to the ongoing global drone arms race. The U.S. military – and its allies – clearly view the sea as a compliment to unmanned aircraft. In April, DARPA unveiled plans for a flotilla of 132-foot “Sea Hunter” drones that could roam the seas of the world within 5 years if all goes according to plan. It is an advancement in what already exists under the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS), which in effect creates robot swarms that can identify and intercept perceived threats.

A short while later, the U.S. announced its intention to utilize what already has been developed in sea drone systems to potentially launch into the highly contested territory of the South China Sea.

This is occurring amid the backdrop of the largest group of autonomous weapons drills yet planned, with the U.S. and its allies engaging in war games known as Unmanned Warrior 2016, which occurs off the Scottish Coast in October.

The UK’s Royal Navy will naturally have a presence in those drills, and they have just unveiled yet another potential technology that we can see used in the seas of the future: “robot spy speedboats,” officially known as MAST – Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed. In the Telegraph article cited below, it is clearly stated that this system will be unarmed. However, this is tacitly admitted to be perception management, as I’ve highlighted toward the end.

The 34ft boat can skim across the waves at more than 50kts to track high speed targets, while navigating and dodging other ships without the control of a human.

Naval commanders believe the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) could herald a robot fleet of high-speed craft packed with sensors to carry out spy and scouting missions.

The dawn of unmanned vehicles is likely to have the same revolutionary effect on naval warfare as the birth of flight and aircraft carriers, according to the navy’s Fleet Robotics Officer.


While the MAST is only a test platform for new technology and will not enter service as it stands, sources said it could it pave the way for future robots vessels that can track, shadow or spy on other craft as well as loitering off coastlines.

Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Navy was looking at unmanned vehicles to take on “dull, dirty, and dangerous” jobs.


But she said military chiefs were hesitant about arming unmanned vehicles.

She said: “The real issue is the public perception and the nervousness that some in the military might have and the potential legal challenges.

“The use of unmanned systems to deliver lethal force is still extremely controversial. It’s facing all sorts of legal challenges, so I think going down that road is quite difficult.”

[emphasis added]

(Source: The Telegraph)

Anyone who has been following the progression of drones knows that this is merely part of the stepping-stone tactic that is used to merely delay any potential concerns or outrage that might come from open admission that autonomous weaponized systems will be roaming the planet in the near future. These supposed concerns from the military – and presumably the public as well – have done nothing to exercise caution in the development of lethal airborne drone systems.

The fact is that it has long been planned to have a full matrix of war, once labeled MUSIC, where multiple platforms across sea, land and sky would be orchestrated to identify threats and carry out attacks … potentially without ever being subjected to human oversight.

If anyone still believes that the military has purely benevolent intentions and will exercise restraint in the further development of autonomous systems of surveillance and killing, then perhaps the cautionary words of DARPA itself should force us to seriously question the unintended consequences of war becoming computerized. Have not all connected devices been easily hacked?

The following videos show the current trends in the development of sea-based drone systems:

Nicholas West writes for ActivistPost.com. This article can be freely republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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2 Comments on "Drone Speedboats to be Tested in Massive Military Drill “Unmanned Warrior 2016”"

  1. Cool… I want a drone fishing boat so it will go catch the fish and bring them back to me…

    Always be a light that is shininginthedark

  2. Amazing. All those guys on boats and no one wearing flotation vests.

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