Robot Boats Hunt Pirates

Posted on November 19, 2007  Comments (0)

Robot Boats Hunt High-Tech Pirates on the High-Speed Seas

The International Maritime Bureau is tracking a 14-percent increase in worldwide pirate attacks this year. And although modern-day pirates enjoy collecting their fare share of booty—they have a soft spot for communications gear—they’re just as likely to ransom an entire ship. In one particularly sobering case, hijackers killed one crew member of a Taiwan-owned vessel each month until their demands were met.

For years now, law enforcement agencies across the high seas have proposed robotic boats, or unmanned surface vessels (USVs), as a way to help deal with 21st-Century techno Black Beards. The Navy has tested at least two small, armed USV demonstrators designed to patrol harbors and defend vessels. And both the Navy and the Coast Guard have expressed interest in the Protector, a 30-ft.-long USV built by BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Israeli defense firm RAFAEL.

The Protector, which comes mounted with a 7.62mm machine gun, wasn’t originally intended for anti-piracy operations. But according to BAE Systems spokesperson Stephanie Moncada, the robot could easily fill that role.

Related: International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle CompetitionAutonomous Flying Vehicles

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