Look out below: The next ‘wave’ of autonomous robots

This week, the Navy announced that the MK18 Mod 2 Kingfish underwater unmanned vehicle has been deployed for operations in the 5th Fleet area, a region covering about 2.5 million square miles of water area, which includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The Kingfish is a next generation defense system used by the Navy for mine detection missions, replacing the current Swordfish system.

Here, engineers secure a Kingfish to the deck of a rigid hull inflatable boat. The Kingfish uses side scan sonar to search and discover objects of interest.

Though airborne drones are more well known and more high profile, underwater drone technology is expanding rapidly, and everyone from hobbyists to the military to commercial businesses already has a hand on undersea robotics.

Obstacles to the proliferation of technology like this — primarily communications and energy — are being overcome quickly, and the Navy believes that in the next few years we’ll likely see swarms of combat-ready undersea drones, the next wave of autonomous robotics.

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