Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

DARPA’s Autonomous Ship Is Patrolling the Seas with a Parasailing Radar

Forget self-driving cars—this is the robotic technology that the military wants to use.

California may be the home of Google’s robotic cars, but just off the coast, DARPA is testing technology that puts the search giant’s trundling little autonomous marshmallows to shame.

The defense agency’s robotic ship—the Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, to those in the know—has been running sea trials on its new radar system. But the technology doesn’t sit aboard the ship: instead, it’s slung behind it on a parasail in order to reach heights of between 500 and 1,500 feet.

Tests show that the extra altitude boosts the radar’s effectiveness, vastly extending its range beyond what's possible when it’s simply fixed to a ship’s mast. DARPA believes this is what the future of naval warfare looks like: drone boats out patrolling in potentially hostile waters, while manned boats remain out of harm’s way for as long as possible.

DARPA isn’t alone in building robotic ships, though. Between initiatives to develop autonomous taxi boats in Amsterdam, data-collecting trimarans in California, and autonomous tugs in Boston, self-sailing boats are taking to the water all over the world.

(Read more: DARPA, “Fleets of Robotic Boats Are Getting Ready to Set Sail”)

Hear more about robotics at EmTech MIT 2017.

Register now

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.