The US Navy is quietly developing armed robot submarines controlled by onboard artificial intelligence. The vessels could potentially kill without explicit human control.
Powered by a hybrid combination of battery technology and marine diesel generators, Boeing’s Echo Voyager is truly a game-changing platform, capable of performing as a multi-mission system and playing a pivotal role in future force structure.
Echo Voyager is a fully autonomous extra large unmanned undersea vehicle (XLUUV) class UUV that can be used for a variety of missions that were previously impossible due to traditional UUV limitations.
Echo Voyager is complete with an extensive internal and external payload volume and available energy capacity, expanding the parameters of what is possible in current unmanned undersea systems.
The vehicle’s advanced autonomy enables it to perform at sea for months at a time, delivering a more affordable, mission-capable solution over traditional UUVs.
The Office of Naval Research is carrying out the project, known as CLAWS, which it describes in budget documents as an autonomous undersea weapon system for clandestine use. CLAWS will “increase mission areas into kinetic effects”, say the documents – military-speak for destroying things.
In particular, CLAWS will equip robot submarines (Echo Voyager) with sensors and algorithms to carry out complex missions on their own, such as evading enemy submarine and attacking enemy submarines.
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