We can now add underwater warfare to the growing list of things robots will do for us in the future.
In San Diego this week, the Sea Hunter, a massive, 132-foot autonomous submarine, passed its first performance test. It now looks like it will make the cut off to enter the Navy’s fleet by 2018, Vocativ reports.
“[The Sea Hunter] surpassed all performance objectives for speed, maneuverability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration/deceleration, and fuel consumption,” Leidos, the company behind the vessel, said in a statement.
Though the tests have been manned so far, the upcoming ones will see the vessel cruising without human assistance. When it’s off to sea, it will be able to remain there for three full months with little to no remote control operation.
Not only will it be able to detect diesel-electric submarines (cough, China, cough) it is also being envisioned for a variety of uses.
“What we’ve kind of realized over the course of the program is that it’s a truck,” Scott Littlefield, a program manager for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, told IEEE Spectrum. “It’s got lots of payload capacity for a variety of different missions.”
The added bonus of the Sea Hunter? It brings the cost of operations down to $20,000 a day — compared to $700,000 for a manned Navy warship.
The robots win again.