Autonomous Tech will Prevent Collision on High Seas

111010-N-KD852-492 PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct 11, 2011) - The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group consisting of USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and USS Makin Island (LHD 8) participate in a formation photo off the southern coast of California. The Makin Island ARG is underway for a certification exercise in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill/Released)

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The US Navy has been testing uncrewed, autonomous ships and submarines, which officials consider a necessary piece of the future fleet. But the technology has largely been limited to exercises and sea trials. In January, it has been published that the Navy was unlikely to pursue a formal program for unmanned surface vessels in the next five years, and instead will be focusing on the enabling technologies first.

Installing autonomous and machine-learning technology on a crewed ship could be one way to prove the tech works, and just have it run in the background, said Tom Reynolds, senior director of business development for Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Technical Solutions. 

So the Navy is considering installing autonomous technology currently used on crewless ships on warships driven by sailors as a way to improve safety and avoid collisions on the high seas.

The Navy asked companies for ways these types of “bridge decision aid technologies” could “support safe navigation in Navy ships and submarines.” Installing this tech inside the bridge of crewed ships could “build user trust in the decision-aid solutions,” he was cited by