Navy tests robotic jet skis

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Why use a regular old jet ski or patrol boat to monitor a habor when you can deploy an awesome looking sawed off robotic jet ski?

Well, that's exactly what the U.S. Navy was thinking when it designed the "Blackfish" remote-controlled jet ski robot.

The Blackfish is designed to monitor ports for possible terrorists swimming or diving in the murky waters - an activity normally difficult to detect. Measuring in at 10-feet long and outfitted with top-of-the-line sonar, radar, and surveillance equipment, this bad boy can hit around 40MPH without a problem.

The Blackfish jet ski is the newest addition to the Navy's fleet of unmanned sailboats like the "Habor Wing," a 60-foot, 10-ton remote-controlled ship.

The surveillance clad marine vessels are part of the Navy's greater plan of an entire fleet of unmanned robotic catamarans tasked with monitoring various ports, collecting intelligence, and transporting soldiers. 

For example, a prototype version of the Harbor Wing catamaran, the X-1, has been cruising the waters of Hawaii as part of a Navy test. The X-2 is set to sail this fall without any crew members, simply guided by GPS from San Diego to Hawaii and back.

But really, who needs a human captain when you have the X-2 that never veers more than five meters off course, can avoid collisions, defend itself, and survive any weather sent its way?

“There’s great concern about swimmers approaching the boats underwater,” QinetiQ’s Mark Hewitt tells Discovery News.  Apparently, terrorist divers are not only found in James Bond flicks.

Both of the ships can be remotely controlled, the Blackfish from up to a kilometer away and the Harbor Wing from around a hundred miles. The ultimate goal is to get these boats to a point where they can sail alone without human control from shore.

(Via Wired