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October 20, 2014 AT 2:00 am

Who Needs a Driver? These Navy Boats Are Programmed to Swarm Like Bees

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SmithsonianMag published a story on these new driverless boats programmed by the Navy.

TThis August, on the James River in Virginia, the U.S. Navy staged the kind of scene you’d expect to see at the beginning of a James Bond movie. As a large ship moved through the water, a helicopter overhead spotted an unidentified boat approaching and sent a warning to a small fleet of escort boats. Some were armed with loudspeakers, others with flashing lights, another with a .50 caliber machine gun.

Once the fleet zeroed in on the threatening vessel with radar and infrared sensors, some of the escort boats broke away and quickly encircled it. They flashed lights and blasted warnings through loudspeakers. Threat resolved.

All of the escort boats were unmanned—and yet they moved together as a group, thanks to what’s known as “swarm intelligence.”

Read more.


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