US Navy tech expo shows off latest unmanned weapons and safety equipment

World Today

Warfare in the future may look very different from the battlefields of today with the rise of unmanned vehicles, robots, and drones in the sky and sea. The U.S. Navy showed off some of its future technology. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.

US Navy tech expo shows off latest unmanned weapons and safety equipment

Warfare in the future may look very different from the battlefields of today with the rise of unmanned vehicles, robots, and drones in the sky and sea. The U.S. Navy showed off some of its future technology. CCTV America's Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.

On display was the next generation of military weapons and safety equipment created by science and technology researchers at the U.S. Navy meant to tackle some of the military’s most challenging problems.

“The S and T (science and technology) community shouldn’t be doing things that are a no brainer. S and T needs to be looking at those hard problems,” Rear Admiral Mat Winter, chief of Naval Research, said.

The main attraction was an electromagnetic railgun that uses electricity to create magnetic energy to launch a projectile at more than 7,200 kilometers per hour (4,474 mph), which is six times the speed of sound, with a range of about 160 kilometers (99.42 miles). The railgun will get its first test at sea in 2016.

Also on display were robots.

“This is Saffir, a full sized humanoid designed for firefighting for the U.S. Navy. It’s a disaster response robot designed to help sailors in dangerous situations to be able to go into places where you wouldn’t normally want to risk human life,” John Seminatore, a graduate research assistant at Virginia Tech said.

The humanoid shape helps it maneuver through narrow boat passages designed to be used by people.

In the future, unmanned vehicles, drones, will play an even bigger part in the U.S. military in the skies, on the water, and below the sea. Unmanned helicopters can be flown using a simple tablet computer. Training is simple and takes only a few hours.

There were also “autonomous swarmboats,” or multiple boats acting together without a human operator.

“We can take multiple different entities and have them communicate and operate as a single entity if we so desire,” Winter said.

Below the surface, underwater gliders can perform scientific and surveillance missions and may one day carry weapons systems.

Another underwater drone appears, swims, and even sounds like a fish, making it a stealthy underwater asset.

“Fish are natural swimmers. They are very fast and very maneuverable. They’re very efficient, so what can we extract from that to improve the performance of man-made underwater vehicles was really the point of the project,” Mike Rufo director of the advanced systems group at Boston Engineering Corp. said.

Navy officials hope to one day integrate all these systems together as warfare becomes more autonomous.