If Skynet is ever in the market for a boat, this should fit the bill.
The defense contractor DARPA has created an autonomous robot ship, dubbed ACTUV (Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel), which is designed to be a submarine-hunting defense ship. It’s 132 feet long and weighs approximately 140 tons.
Though the best reference point is likely to compare this thing to a water-based drone, it’s a whole lot more than that. Unlike the aerial drones used by the military, this ship will be autonomous, meaning the military won’t have to invest any manpower into controlling it and keeping it running. It’ll work like this: The U.S. Navy will deploy sonar buoys to give the ship a direction, then it’ll head off on its own, using its A.I. to detect and follow submarines, deliver supplies or do reconnaissance.
The practical applications are high, obviously, but you always have to be aware of the slippery slope you’re starting down with autonomous war machines.
DARPA plans to unveil the new ship in April, then spend the next year and a half testing out and demonstrating what it’s capable of doing out there in the wild.