The US Navy is not only developing robotic warships, but it also wants to teach them how to speak. In a request for proposals, the Navy has outlined how it wants its autonomous surface vessels to be able to have back-and-forth verbal radio communications with the crew of other ships to avoid collisions.
If Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) are ever going to become practical, they will have to operate in the real world in a manner comparable to that of conventional ships. This means that they not only need to be able to go from point A to Point B without running aground or hitting anything, they also need to be able to deal with other sea traffic and the crews that control them.
This means that a USV must be able to follow the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), which lay out how two vessels should respond if they meet one another. Unfortunately, COLREGS are only clear when it comes to two vessels. If there are three or more, things get very complicated, and the standard procedure is for the bridge crews involved to contact one another by VHF radio and work out how to avoid trouble.