Self-Captaining Autonomous Warboat Tested by US Military

By Gary Cutlack on at

US military development hotbed DARPA has released footage of its latest autonomous creation, revealing a submarine-hunting warship that apparently has the ability to go about its business all by itself. Until it connects to the internet and starts harpooning whales for a laugh and to gather retweets after 36 hours and has to be taken offline.

The ship is so important it has two exciting-sounding military acronyms, operating under both the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) programmes. Both of which mean it's a boat that can pilot itself, reach a top speed of 27 knots, and cruise the seas looking for the tell-tale signatures of undersea vessels. Then, in the distant future, it might decide to start a nuclear war with North Korea all by itself, so the last thing we all experience is being awoken by a distant WHUMP and the curtains catching on fire.

Sadly, as we can see from the clip, it's all show at the moment. There are people clearly onboard and this is just a speed test of the ship. It's not trusted to be out by itself yet. All the important self-driving features are still at work in progress stage, while DARPA works out how to handle situations like dinghies full of children, lost middle-aged leisure sailors, waves, seagulls, jellyfish that might be poisonous, Jeremy Clarkson racing a dolphin from Alaska to Russia on a motorised pedalo, and all of marine life's many oddities. [Inverse]

Want more updates from Gizmodo UK? Make sure to check out our @GizmodoUK Twitter feed, and our Facebook page.