For some time now the U S Navy has been operating unmanned watercraft and working to expand its fleet of autonomous vessels. One major drawback to the systems was the operators were literally driving the boats to destruction. While running with a joystick from a combat information center the techs didn’t feel the pitch of the boat, the rise of the swell, and the slam of the launch, they just kept pushing and without the feel of being on board they would run these watercraft until they fell apart.
Now set up with high tech software the watercraft are completely capable of full autonomous operation. For the U S Navy this is a huge new asset to defend individual ships, fleets, and harbors from hostile actions. Set up with advanced sensors and software coming from NASA technology with advanced algorithms that determine the proper speed, trim, tab and throttle response to not only keep the craft on target but also maintain the optimal running attitudes, speed, and trim for all conditions. These Navy swarms are also capable of firing advanced weapon systems all at the same time they are driving around unmanned.
So what does this mean for our regular powerboat industry? Well, it maybe able to save lives! While there is strong doubt by some in the powerboat industry about having technology act as an automatic intervention to the operation of a watercraft, it appears as the technology is here. It may not be readily available to the public and is sure to be expensive but what if it could be employed to keep our boats safe at high speed. It works in the automotive world and I remain the forever optimist that at some level, at some point in the future we will see advanced sensors incorporated into high speed craft that can identify critical operational limits and impose interventions at speeds not measurable to human reactions and keep the occupants safe.