A robotic cargo vessel has passed through the Panama Canal for the first time. The ship, an Overlord uncrewed surface vessel belonging to the US Navy, made a 4700-nautical-mile (8700-kilometre) journey including passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific almost entirely without human assistance. Pentagon spokesperson Josh Frey says the vessel was in autonomous mode for more than 97 per cent of the trip's length. A remote crew assisted when needed. The US Navy has two of the 59-metre Overlord vessels, modified from crewed fast transport ships.
The Royal Navy and the US Navy are working on ways to establish links between their digital delivery teams, test methods for international collaboration and develop deeper technical collaboration around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The work, which started in August 2020, is part of a wider initiative to establish better technology cooperations between the US and the UK. It follows a mandate from senior leaders in digital and AI at both organisations, with the objective to "aggressively explore, develop and demonstrate" how the two countries make applications work together in an interoperable way, and how they can interchangeably use each other's technology. A shared long-term vision is that US-UK development squadrons will be created, to develop AI and ML to support fleet operations centres to tactical-level units, and interoperability with joint service partners. Under that mandate, a collaboration plan was devised by Royal Navy Digital Services and the US Navy to look at specific pieces of technology and the methods the organisations use to research, design and build software.
Take, for example, attacking a Star Destroyer. Sure, you can just point your ship at it and spray it with your lasers. That won't do much though. The better path, one that is encouraged and most rewarded by the game, is to first target one of its systems (say, the shield generators), flip your deflector shields to the front, boost the engines to enhance your speed and maneuverability to avoid incoming fire, fire off a guided warhead like a Proton Torpedo, sneak inside the ship's shields for maximum damage, level your shields (because now there are turrets on both sides of you), speed boost and then cut the engines and turn hard to drift around the tower, prolonging the time you can fire on it, redirect power from your engines to your lasers and blast away until you're either out of range or your power is depleted, point your fighter away from the Star Destroyer, shift the shields back to your rear, redirect power back to the engines and speed away. When you're finally out of range, maybe redirect power to your shields to recharge them, if you're not being pursued by an enemy fighter.
The US Navy is developing AI-controlled submarines that could have the ability to kill without human control. The project -- called CLAWS -- is being led by the Office of Naval Research, which is responsible for the science and technology programs of the US Navy and Marine Corps. Budget documents uncovered by New Scientist, describe CLAWS as an "autonomous unmanned undersea weapon system" that could be installed on robot submarines such as the Orca underseas vehicle being developed by Boeing. These boats will be armed with 12 torpedo tubes that could be controlled by CLAWS without any input from a human. "It will clandestinely extend the reach of large UUVs [unmanned underwater vehicles] and increase the mission areas into kinetic effects," read the documents.
Now, a Purdue University team has created a mobile docking system for AUVs, enabling them to perform longer tasks without the need for human intervention. The team also has published papers on ways to adapt this docking system for AUVs that will explore extraterrestrial lakes, such as those of Jupiter and Saturn's moons. "My research focuses on persistent operation of robots in challenging environments," said Nina Mahmoudian, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. Once a marine robot submerges in water, it loses the ability to transmit and receive radio signals, including GPS data. Some may use acoustic communication, but this method can be difficult and unreliable, especially for long-range transmissions.
The ability to say "no" in a variety of ways and contexts is an essential part of being socio-cognitively human. Through a variety of examples, we show that, despite ominous portrayals in science fiction, AI agents with human-inspired noncompliance abilities have many potential benefits. Rebel agents are intelligent agents that can oppose goals or plans assigned to them, or the general attitudes or behavior of other agents. They can serve purposes such as ethics, safety, and task execution correctness, and provide or support diverse points of view. We present a framework to help categorize and design rebel agents, discuss their social and ethical implications, and assess their potential benefits and the risks they may pose.
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant. The big picture: Updating popular products and expanding its range to car alarms and in-home drones, Amazon extended its lead in smart home devices and moved into new areas including cloud gaming and car security. The new offerings will also fuel criticism that the tech giant is helping equip a society built around surveillance.
Lockheed Martin has been selected as the main contractor to conduct a study on how to provide the US Navy with large, autonomous ships that can operate for extended periods without a crew. Part of the Navy's Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) competition, Lockheed is working with Portland, Oregon-based shipbuilder Vigor Works, LLC, and will provide program management, platform integration, systems engineering, combat management, automation, and cybernetic expertise. With the biggest costs of building and operating a ship revolving around putting a crew aboard it, the US and other navies are very interested in creating unmanned or man-optional ships that can carry out both routine and extremely hazardous duties, leaving sailors to handle the sort of executive and complex tasks that still require a human touch. These autonomous ships of the future could be anything from small autonomous patrol craft, to sub hunters, to full-blown combat submarines. Such craft could, ideally, leave port on their own, remain at sea for months at a time, and then return autonomously for refit and maintenance.
Washington – U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Wednesday an ambitious plan to expand the U.S. Navy with a range of unmanned and autonomous ships, submarines and aircraft to confront the growing maritime challenge from China. The Pentagon chief said a sweeping review of U.S. naval power dubbed "Future Forward" had laid out a "game-changer" plan that would expand the U.S. sea fleet to more than 355 ships, from the current 293. The plan, which requires adding tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. Navy's budget between now and 2045, is aimed at maintaining superiority over Chinese naval forces, seen as the primary threat to the United States. "The future fleet will be more balanced in its ability to deliver lethal effects from the air, from the sea, and from under the sea," Esper said in a speech at the Rand Corp. in California. The expansion will add "more and smaller" surface ships; more submarines; surface and subsurface vessels that are optionally manned, unmanned and autonomous; and a broad range of unmanned carrier-based aircraft.
For all of human history, people have spied on one another. To find out what others are doing or planning to do, people have surveilled, monitored, and eavesdropped--using tools that constantly improved but never displaced their human masters. Artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems are changing all of that. In the future, machines will spy on machines in order to know what other machines are doing or are planning to do. Intelligence work will still consist of stealing and protecting secrets, but how those secrets are collected, analyzed, and disseminated will be fundamentally different.