Following a series of successful sea trials, DARPA has handed its experimental autonomous warship over to the US Navy. The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) “Sea Hunter” technology demonstrator was formally transferred to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for further development of what could potentially be the first of a new class of ocean-going ships called Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MDUSVs).
With its pilot house, the 132-ft (42-m) ACTUV looks like an odd naval trimaran, but the crew accommodation is only a temporary structure for the robotic craft’s human overseers during sea trials.
When it’s fully developed, it will be a sub hunter capable of leaving port on its own, carrying out its mission across thousands of miles of open sea, and then returning home after three months – all without human intervention. It can even deal with other ships in the area safely and in accordance with maritime laws at only a 10th the cost of a conventional sub hunter.