Self-driving cars and self-flying drones are always in the news, however, have you ever heard of self-driving ships?. The Titanic would have been a different story if somehow the self-driving technology the ship had could have spotted and avoided the iceberg. Oh, the possibilities. Just imagine getting on a cruise ship that has no crew steering it. Fiction becomes fact quite quickly in the engineering world these days.
The Pentagon has revealed the world's largest unmanned surface vessel. A self-navigating, self-driving 40-meter ship that would be able to sail up to 10,000 nautical miles by itself. The ship is the brainchild of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with the contribution of the Navy. The ship is being held at the San Diego coast and will be tested there for the next two years. In that time, the ship will interact with other ships and will also learn how to navigate around ships that are manned with personnel.
DARPA employee Jared B Adams said: "It's not a joy-stick ship." Meaning, the ship is not controlled by a controller like some drones are in the world today, the ship has been designed to drive itself with artificial intelligence like the self-driving cars we see today. However, if the ship does run into troubles it can be overridden by a human driver.
Allegedly, the U.S. has been hard at work trying to ensure that the ship is hacker-proof so that it cannot be programmed to go places that the Navy hasn't cleared it for. It reaches up to 29,9 MPH which is not amazing but it is something. The ship cost $152 million for the first prototype but DARPA confirmed one can be built for $16 million in the future, according to CBC News.