Full Speed Ahead For Autonomous Countermine Technologies

By: Sandra Jontz, SIGNAL Magazine

“U.S. Navy researchers hope to advance maritime countermine technology by developing fully autonomous systems that support the service’s latest ships and doctrine. Both new threats and innovative naval systems are remaking the undersea arena in ways that render obsolete conventional countermine

The Navy has come a long way from the self-propelled torpedoes of the 1860s. With processors and sensors smaller, cheaper and more powerful than ever, fully autonomous weapon systems are not far from reality. Today, as Defense Department leaders wrangle with ethics and policy aspects of this brave new world—likely a decade off—Navy engineers push full speed ahead to create platforms that take humans out of the mission loop.

Scientists are sailing toward new expeditionary defense systems that augment the Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) mine and antisubmarine warfare mission modules. Comparable in size to frigates, LCSs—with their technological advances—require about half the crew of their larger cousins, putting fewer sailors in harm’s way and reducing logistical support requirements.”

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