• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Who needs sailors anyway?

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
94882871_Sea-Hunter-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA.jpg

The autonomous ship "Sea Hunter"docked in Portland, Oregon, after its christening ceremony CREDIT: STEVE DIPAOLA/REUTERS

US military launches self-piloting ship

Reuters
7 APRIL 2016 • 9:21PM

The US military on Thursday christened an experimental self-piloting ship designed to hunt for enemy submarines, a major advance in robotic warfare at the core of America's strategy to counter Chinese and Russian naval investments.

The 132-foot-long unarmed prototype, dubbed Sea Hunter, is the naval equivalent of Google's self-driving car, designed to cruise on the ocean's surface for two or three months at a time - without a crew or anyone controlling it remotely.

That kind of endurance and autonomy could make it a highly efficient submarine stalker at a fraction of the cost of the Navy's manned vessels.

"This is an inflection point," Deputy US Defense Secretary Robert Work said in an interview, adding he hoped such ships might find a place in the western Pacific in as few as five years.

"This is the first time we've ever had a totally robotic, trans-oceanic-capable ship."

For Pentagon planners such as Work, the Sea Hunter fits into a strategy to incorporate unmanned drones - with increasing autonomy - into the conventional military in the air, on land and at sea.

It also comes as China's naval investments, including in its expanding submarine fleet, stoke concern in Washington about the vulnerability of the aircraft carrier battle groups and submarines that remain critical to America's military superiority in the western Pacific.

"We're not working on anti-submarine (technology) just because we think it's cool. We're working on it because we're deeply concerned about the advancements that China and Russia are making in this space," said author Peter Singer, an expert on robotic warfare at the New America Foundation think tank.

Work said he hoped the ship, once it is proven safe, could head to the US Navy's Japan-based 7th Fleet to continue testing. His goal is to have ships like the Sea Hunter operating on a range of missions, possibly even including counter-mine warfare operations.

"I would like to see unmanned flotillas operating in the western Pacific and the Persian Gulf within five years," he said.

The ship's projected $20 million price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive for the U.S. military.

"You now have an asset at a fraction of the cost of a manned platform," said Rear Admiral Robert Girrier, the Navy's director of unmanned warfare systems.

Developed by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the ship is about to undergo two years of testing, including to verify that it can safely follow international norms for operating at sea.

First and foremost is ensuring that it can use radar and cameras to avoid other vessels. Powered by two diesel engines, the ship can reach speeds of 27 knots.

The advent of increasingly autonomous ships and aircraft is stoking concern among some experts and activists about armed robotic systems that could identify people as threats and kill them.

Work stressed that even if the United States one day decides to arm robotic naval systems such as Sea Hunter, any decision to use offensive lethal force would be made by humans.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/04/07/us-military-launches-self-piloting-ship/
>:D
 

ModlrMike

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
868
Points
960
More remote sensor vessel than ship to my mind.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
405
Points
880
I agree, ModlrMike.

First of all, it seems to be remotely piloted, more like a drone, than self driving like the Google car mentioned*. 

Looks to me to be remotely operated replacement of the old USNS "tuna boats" of the cold war. They will drag towed array sonars and report findings for prosecution by either surface ships, air assets or submarines.

*: It is far easier to make a self driving boat than car: the lanes to follow are a lot less stringent, all you have to do is stay in the white/beige portion of the electronic nautical charts. And collision avoidance is just a set up on the radar warning system: at "x" miles, if target has CPA of less than "a", then turn/slow down as appropriate to open CPA to "b" value. Of course you will still have a few occasional screw ups, as many small things at sea don't show up on radar, but it won't be any worse than the occasional solo sailor whose sailboat has been run over by a merchant ship that didn't see him in mid-ocean.  ;D
 

cupper

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1
Points
430
Oldgateboatdriver said:
First of all, it seems to be remotely piloted, more like a drone, than self driving like the Google car mentioned*. 
Looks to me to be remotely operated replacement of the old USNS "tuna boats" of the cold war.

But the article says that they are completely autonomous, no one remotely controlling it.

US military launches self-piloting ship

Reuters
7 APRIL 2016 • 9:21PM

The US military on Thursday christened an experimental self-piloting ship designed to hunt for enemy submarines, a major advance in robotic warfare at the core of America's strategy to counter Chinese and Russian naval investments.

The 132-foot-long unarmed prototype, dubbed Sea Hunter, is the naval equivalent of Google's self-driving car, designed to cruise on the ocean's surface for two or three months at a time - without a crew or anyone controlling it remotely.

That kind of endurance and autonomy could make it a highly efficient submarine stalker at a fraction of the cost of the Navy's manned vessels.

"This is an inflection point," Deputy US Defense Secretary Robert Work said in an interview, adding he hoped such ships might find a place in the western Pacific in as few as five years.

"This is the first time we've ever had a totally robotic, trans-oceanic-capable ship."

For Pentagon planners such as Work, the Sea Hunter fits into a strategy to incorporate unmanned drones - with increasing autonomy - into the conventional military in the air, on land and at sea.

Not entirely sure that the world needs more sailors with more free time on their hands. I think I'd rather have Donald Trump as President. >:D
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
Same way I read it cupper.

CTF 2030

Huitfeldt
Absolon
6x Sea Hunter.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
405
Points
880
I was thinking more about the anti-submarine detection portion of the job when I put it in the remotely piloted category.

The cruising around can be completely autonomous, once you assigned the "drone" ship a particular area to go and patrol, but ASW detection, classification and tracking will need the human touch for the foreseeable future. There is just too much intuition still required in order to figure out where to go andwhat to do next to best foil the efforts of a submarine, and the on board computer could not begin to do detection and recognition as fast as good sonar man. Even onboard ship's a nd submarines, the good ones can distinguish things on their headphones faster than the sonar equipment can classify and detect  ;D.

Finally, I wonder what happens if it gets pursued, then boarded and taken as prize by the ocean's equivalent of the Ferengi!
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
Oldgateboatdriver said:
I was thinking more about the anti-submarine detection portion of the job when I put it in the remotely piloted category.

The cruising around can be completely autonomous, once you assigned the "drone" ship a particular area to go and patrol, but ASW detection, classification and tracking will need the human touch for the foreseeable future. There is just too much intuition still required in order to figure out where to go andwhat to do next to best foil the efforts of a submarine, and the on board computer could not begin to do detection and recognition as fast as good sonar man. Even onboard ship's a nd submarines, the good ones can distinguish things on their headphones faster than the sonar equipment can classify and detect  ;D.

Radio comms.

Oldgateboatdriver said:
Finally, I wonder what happens if it gets pursued, then boarded and taken as prize by the ocean's equivalent of the Ferengi!

Sink the bugger!  It's only a ship.  [:D
 

Eye In The Sky

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,985
Points
1,060
Oldgateboatdriver said:
I agree, ModlrMike.

First of all, it seems to be remotely piloted, more like a drone, than self driving like the Google car mentioned*. 

Technically speaking, something that is remotely piloted isn't a drone.  Drone means 'pre-programmed', fire and forget...despite the misuse of the term drone nowadays thanks to...the media. 
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
Eye In The Sky said:
Technically speaking, something that is remotely piloted isn't a drone.  Drone means 'pre-programmed', fire and forget...despite the misuse of the term drone nowadays thanks to...the media.

My understanding of the terms goes something like this:

A drone follows a pre-planned course, going from way-point to way-point, and if an unforeseen obstacle crosses its path it crashes.

A remotely piloted vehicle flies where the pilot wants it to go, second by second, and if an unforeseen obstacle crosses its path the pilot has the opportunity to manoeuvre around it.

An autonomous vehicle follows a pre-planned course, that can be remotely updated, going from way-point to way-point, and if an unforeseen obstacle crosses its path it has sufficient situational awareness to take evasive action on its own prior to returning to its previously scheduled course.

My understanding of these vessels are that they are autonomous and do not require a man-in-the-loop.  If they were armed then presumably the armaments would require a man-in-the-loop at some point in the decision cycle - even if just to declare "weapons free".
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
Further to this story:

Autonomous, 27 knots.

During the testing phase, the ship will have human operators as a safety net, but once it proves to be reliable, the autonomous surface vessel will manoeuvre itself — able to go out at sea for months at a time.

Program manager Scott Littlefield said there will be no “remote-controlled driving of the vessel,” instead it will be given its mission-level commands telling it where to go and what to accomplish and then software will enable it to drive itself safely.

The military initially built the diesel-powered ship to detect stealthy electric submarines, but developers say they believe it has the capability to go beyond that, including doing mine sweeps. There are no plans at this point to arm it.

“There are a lot of advantages that we’re still trying to learn about,” Littlefield said.

Among them is the possibility that the full-size prototype could pave the way to developing crewless cargo vessels for the commercial shipping industry someday, he added.


The ship was built off the Oregon coast, and moved on a barge to San Diego’s coastline to begin testing. The prototype can travel at a speed of up to 27 knots per hour, and is equipped with a variety of sensors and an advanced optical system to detect other ships, Littlefield said.

The program to develop the ship cost $120 million, though Littlefield said the vessels can now be produced for about $20 million.

There are video links at the link below.


U.S. military tests the ‘Sea Hunter’ — a 40-metre unmanned ship designed to cross oceans without a crew

Julie Watson, The Associated Press | May 2, 2016 5:08 PM ET

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. military is launching tests on the world’s largest unmanned surface vessel — a self-driving, 40-metre ship designed to travel thousands of kilometres out at sea without a single crew member on board.

The so-called “Sea Hunter” has the potential to revolutionize not only the military’s maritime service but commercial shipping — marking the first step toward sending unmanned cargo vessels between countries, according to military officials, who showed off the ship in San Diego on Monday before it was put in the water.

The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, developed the ship along with Virginia-based Leidos. DARPA will test it in conjunction with the Navy over the next two years off California’s coast. The tests will largely focus on its ability to react on its own to avoid collisions with seafaring traffic.

During the testing phase, the ship will have human operators as a safety net, but once it proves to be reliable, the autonomous surface vessel will manoeuvre itself — able to go out at sea for months at a time.

Program manager Scott Littlefield said there will be no “remote-controlled driving of the vessel,” instead it will be given its mission-level commands telling it where to go and what to accomplish and then software will enable it to drive itself safely.

The military initially built the diesel-powered ship to detect stealthy electric submarines, but developers say they believe it has the capability to go beyond that, including doing mine sweeps. There are no plans at this point to arm it.

“There are a lot of advantages that we’re still trying to learn about,” Littlefield said.

Among them is the possibility that the full-size prototype could pave the way to developing crewless cargo vessels for the commercial shipping industry someday, he added.


The ship was built off the Oregon coast, and moved on a barge to San Diego’s coastline to begin testing. The prototype can travel at a speed of up to 27 knots per hour, and is equipped with a variety of sensors and an advanced optical system to detect other ships, Littlefield said.

The program to develop the ship cost $120 million, though Littlefield said the vessels can now be produced for about $20 million.

During the collision tests, the ship will be programmed to follow international traffic rules for boats of its size, Littlefield said. There are no standards for unmanned ships yet, but he believes that could change if vessels like this one make it out of the experimental stage.

The Navy over the years has experimented with a number of unmanned systems — from drone helicopters to small, remotely controlled boats launched from ships. The Pentagon’s budget over the next five years calls for investing in more high-end Naval ships, including $600 million to be invested in unmanned undersea vehicles.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/u-s-military-tests-the-sea-hunter-a-40-metre-unmanned-ship-designed-to-cross-oceans-without-a-crew?preview_id=1090081

I also think that this relates to the discussion on the F35 and the 6th Gen Fighter _

Beyond the Fighter Jet: The Air Force of 2030

In its quest to dominate the air battlefield of the future, the US Air Force may look to replace the traditional fighter jet with a network of integrated systems disaggregated across multiple platforms.

The Air Force on Thursday [April 14] rolled out the initial findings of a team tasked last year to explore options for maintaining air superiority in the future battle space. The group, the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team, found that the best path forward is developing a “family of systems” to address the range of threats in a highly contested environment.

As near-peer adversaries like Russia and China continue to close the capability gap, building long-range missiles, anti-satellite and anti-aircraft weapons designed to foil US forces’ ability to penetrate, the Air Force must find new ways to dominate the air.

"The threat environment will continue to proliferate over the next 15 to 20 years, and we will face them in places and in spaces on this globe and above this globe that we don’t even anticipate right now," said Air Superiority 2030 lead Col. Alex Grynkewich on Thursday during an event hosted by the Air Force Association.

This family of systems, or “system of systems,” approach is the Air Force’s answer to the idea the US military is losing its advantage. The new strategy will include both stand-off capability and penetrating forces, with increased dependence on space and cyber to infiltrate enemy defenses and defend our own networks, Grynkewich said.

“What the adversary has done is built a whole bunch of different systems that are networked together . . . we learned over the years it takes a network to fight a network,” Grynkewich said. “It takes a network and an integrated system of systems or a family of systems in order to handle that highly contested environment in the future.”

The Air Force set aside money in its fiscal year 2017 budget request for experimentation and prototyping in the area of air superiority, Lt. Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements, said during the event. The team will use this funding to explore concepts like the arsenal plane, hypersonic weapons, directed energy, autonomy, and electronic attack, the officials said.

But will the family of systems include a traditional fighter jet? Grynkewich seems to think not [emphasis added]...

The Air Force had planned to begin working on a joint analysis of alternatives with the Navy to explore a follow-on fighter jet solution, an F-X for the Air Force and an FA-XX for the Navy. But while the Navy went ahead with its AOA this year, the Air Force opted to delay the F-X effort, the service told reporters in February...
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/2016/04/08/beyond-fighter-jet-air-force-2030/82767356/

http://army.ca/forums/threads/22809/post-1433232.html#msg1433232

If the Air Force can contemplate networking a swarm of unmanned air vehicles moving at 500 knot then surely the Navy can manage a swarm at 25 knots (and they don't "sink" as easily).

 

Colin Parkinson

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
3,834
Points
1,160
logs, fishing gear, sailboats, containers, kayakers, what could go wrong......

I suspect the electronic signature of the vessel is going to be strong, which might not be a bad thing, knowing they are there can act as a deterrence and the apparent gap in the screen could be filled by a listening sub waiting for someone to try to slide through the gap. Also wondering how they would prevent the boarding and seizure of one of these? Can't use it in a littoral area without a risk of capture.
 

Lumber

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
177
Points
680
Colin P said:
Also wondering how they would prevent the boarding and seizure of one of these? Can't use it in a littoral area without a risk of capture.

Web-cams to monitor the upper decks;
Electrified outer hull;
Tear-Gas extruders;
Temporary submerge ability (basically, the boat takes a quick and shallow "dive" into the water at high speed, just deep enough to submerge the upper decks, clearing it of boarders, before popping back up out of the water again);
Attack Sea-Gulls.

Lots of options.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
Colin P said:
logs, fishing gear, sailboats, containers, kayakers, what could go wrong......

I suspect the electronic signature of the vessel is going to be strong, which might not be a bad thing, knowing they are there can act as a deterrence and the apparent gap in the screen could be filled by a listening sub waiting for someone to try to slide through the gap. Also wondering how they would prevent the boarding and seizure of one of these? Can't use it in a littoral area without a risk of capture.

To add to Lumber's thoughts, on the detection front:

Some squawking loud, some operating at "normal" levels, some quiet.

Some drifting.  Some sprinting.  Some cruising.

The presence of the force may be known but the area of operations, its strength and its capabilities may still all be fuzzy.
 

Sub_Guy

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
460
Oldgateboatdriver said:
Even onboard ship's a nd submarines, the good ones can distinguish things on their headphones faster than the sonar equipment can classify and detect  ;D.

A sonar operator needs the computer to classify.  Classification can't be performed solely on aural. 



 

Colin Parkinson

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
3,834
Points
1,160
Chris Pook said:
To add to Lumber's thoughts, on the detection front:

Some squawking loud, some operating at "normal" levels, some quiet.

Some drifting.  Some sprinting.  Some cruising.

The presence of the force may be known but the area of operations, its strength and its capabilities may still all be fuzzy.

You will need some pretty good optical systems and algorithms to deal with the stuff you meet at sea. On the hovercraft we had a bit of a game going to see who would spot something first the radar operator or the lookout, kept us on the ball which is good when doing 30+ kts. It is amazing how much stuff will not show up on radar and if you do have radar on, then you are broadcasting.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
405
Points
880
You gents should stop getting a hard-on every time DARPA or NAVSEA comes up with one more of its cockamamy ideas and trials some research project.

Anybody remembers "Short-N-Fat", "Harrier Sky Hook", "Sea Knife", "SWAT", etc.?

Testing a new system by no means signifies that it will ever develop into something of import or will ever join the fleet.

Just look at the various problems Colin mentioned. They relate to safe navigation only and they already represent a formidable obstacle. That is the problem they are working on right now. And that is just the first of many problems to deal with. Now, add to that a suite of sensors to integrate (including the complexity of the tactical aspects of such expert system: In a submarine chase, some moves are actually made on a "hunch" of the captain - based on experience and in his getting inside the head of the sub driver) and ultimately some completely automated weapons systems (otherwise, what's the point of detecting).

And listen to your ideas for "self-protection" against boardings: submerging, electrified hulls, etc. What do you think these types of things would do to all your surface sensor suite? And how much more complexity of the onboard systems controlling all this will such defensive measures add?

And BTW, that DARPA dugout canoe (Long, thin and with two outriggers for stability), built the way it is specifically for speed and economy of available electrical energy may not scale up too easily, which would greatly limit both sensor suite and capacity to carry weapons. Scaling up may make it impossible to use mere electrical motors and batteries, but any other type of system would need some engineers as the reliability for continuous use is nowhere near.

Just sayin'.

In my opinion, this will only lead, in the end, to more onboard automation and better expert systems.

Oh! And Dolphin_Hunter: There may not be too many people left about from my days, but we used to do detection and classification of sonar contacts before the days of computers.  ;)  It wasn't as detailed and sophisticated as currently possible, but a good sonar man could tell you if you were going against a single screw, or double screw, nuclear or classic, and generally tell you the rough size of your contact - and some times a damn good guesstimate of range. It may be a lost art, but it used to be done.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,524
Points
1,060
A carriage with no horse?

A ship with no sails?

How cockamamie can you get?  >:D
 
Top