On one level, it makes perfect sense. Unmanned military aircraft patrol the skies, piloted by someone in front of a computer with a joystick (or equivalent). They’re cheaper and safer (for the military, if not the area and people they’re patrolling) than conventional aircraft. All the same considerations apply to an unmanned vessel, so it makes sense we’ll be seeing some unmanned vessels in our watery world as well. Pirate interdiction seems the first obvious application, but drug smugglers will be looking over their shoulders as well. With their range, these craft may find some excellent use in search and rescue as well. I just hope that when I’m out and they’re running at 20+ knots their collision avoidance software is working. Read original post here. KH
The ‘stealth drone’ boat set to hunt for pirates and go undercover around the world
- The Eclipse fleet are the first stealth drones capable of operating in water
- They are remote controlled, invisible to radar and can travel at 60mph
- Range of 600 nautical miles and can loiter for ten days without refuelling
By EMMA INNES
It is believed to be the first stealth drone capable of operating in the water.
This 35 foot long boat is designed to invisibly glide across the ocean acting as a spy and spotting pirates.
The daunting vessel belongs to the world’s first fleet of remote-controlled ‘robo-boats’ designed to take on dangerous covert missions without endangering the lives of crew.
Looking like a cross between a miniature warship and a stealth bomber, they are the waterborne equivalent of the unmanned drone planes used by the UK and U.S. military in the fight against terror.
The Eclipse unmanned surveillance vessels are invisible to radar, can operate 24 hours a day, travel at 60mph and can be kitted out with enough weaponry to blow adversaries out of the water.
The cutting edge boats boast state-of-the-art technology that allows it to undertake search and rescue missions or patrol dangerous waters without requiring crew.
They have a range of up to 600 nautical miles and can loiter at low speeds for 10 days without refuelling.
Powered by two 500 horsepower water jets made by Rolls Royce, the Eclipse range also boast £650,000 giroscopic HD cameras which take pictures of their surroundings, analysing them for potential threats and and relaying information back to a manned control station.
The boats can be decked out with weaponry including a high powered fire hose, a cannon that fires nets to foul propellers and even a 50 calibre gun.
They can see in the dark thanks to infrared cameras and can also identify radiological and chemical matter, detect underwater mines and profile the sea bed.
As well as the 35ft Oscar model, the fleet features a 3-metre jet-ski style boat called the Sea Serpent that can be deployed from another boat and a 35ft semi-inflatable powerboat named Bravo capable of operating with crew or unmanned.
The price tag starts at £260,000 for a basic Sea Serpent – and goes up to a whopping £2 million for the basic Oscar boat.
The boats can operate by remote control and can also be programmed to carry out missions entirely on their own.
The fleet has been designed by engineers in Abu Dhabi by American military robotics experts 5G International.
Keith Henderson, spokesman for Al Seer Marine, said: ‘Our fleet of USVs is unique. Various companies have prototype boats but none offer a whole fleet.
‘The size and type of USV depends very much on the kind of mission you want to send it on.
‘We have something for everything – our fleet is the first in the world.
‘They use cutting edge technology to carry out high speed chases and provide top level surveillance while at the same time operating totally undetected.
‘Unlike with manned boats you don’t have to worry about a crew getting sea sick, tired or even scared.
‘The boats themselves are built with a radar reflective superstructure allowing them to scatter radar signals rather than bouncing them back.
‘They can travel in shallow water or deep oceans, and are barely affected by weather.
‘We believe our boats will be at the forefront of the fight against piracy, and crucial to search and rescue missions around the world.’