Artificial Intelligence: Pentagon Using AI And Sea Drones (USVs) To Patrol Gulf Waters

September 12, 2022 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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The US 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59, based in Bahrain, operates the drones.

The Pentagon has, for the past year, used unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) or sea drones and artificial intelligence (AI) in the seas around the Arabian peninsula, to collect data and images that are transmitted for analysis to data collection centres in the Gulf. (Tech Explore).

This surveillance program came into the public eye after news broke that Iranian forces tried to commandeer three Saildrone Explorer USVs in two separate incidents on August 29-30 and September 1. Though the drones were retrieved due to quick action by US Navy patrol boats and helicopters, it nevertheless created a spat between the two countries.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, called the Iranian actions “flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force.”

Saildrones in the Gulf seas

In the program, which integrates unmanned systems and AI into the naval Gulf operations, the US Navy and regional partners have deployed both slow USVs like Saildrones and battery-powered speedboats like the Mantas T-12.

The Saildrones (one pictured above) are powered by solar panels and sail wings and have on board a number of sensors and cameras. These USVs can stay out at sea for a year and transmit data via satellite.

5th Fleet spokesman Commander Tim Hawkins said the program takes the information collected from various unmanned sources, in the air, on the ground and on the sea, and makes sense of it quickly. Moreover, the AI helps to red-flag anything suspicious, such as unidentified hostile vessels, that could be missed by human observers.

The program was announced last September, and in February the 5th Fleet hosted International Maritime Exercise 2022, which brought together 10 countries and more than 80 USVs to try out in the Gulf.

Related Story: Autonomous Ship Mayflower Crosses The Atlantic

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