WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- The future of warfare is autonomous, but undersea, autonomous drones and submarines have a lot of civilian capabilities too
A year after DARPA launched its own fully autonomous mine hunter and a few months after they announced they plan on building American undersea drone highways that span the oceans Boeing has announced that it is teaming up with America’s largest military shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), to work on underwater drones for the US Navy.
The new partners, a match arguably made in sea water, want to create drone submarines together, and who knows, one day those submarines might give the Russian’s forty ton autonomous, nuclear capable, drone submarine, the one that was recently discovered off of the US East coast, a run for its money.
Boeing has been working on drone subs for a while, namely with its Echo Voyager, a 51 foot long fully autonomous sub that can operate at sea for months at a time, and now, adding HII to the project will help both companies up their game in the area.
“This partnership provides the Navy a cost effective, low risk path to meet the emergent needs that prompted the Navy’s Advanced Undersea Prototyping program,” said Darryl Davis, the president of Boeing Phantom Works, “we are combining Boeing’s preeminent [unmanned underwater vehicle] maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and Navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the Navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process.”
While a recent trio of studies looking at the future of the US Navy paid more attention to aircraft carriers, which themselves increasingly look like they’re going to be turned into drone factories, than drones, the US military’s interest in drones is undeniable – whether it’s fully autonomous drone squadrons operating out of Jacksonville, Florida, semi-autonomous warships, autonomous drone F-35’s, or unmanned hypersonic SR-72’s, or swarms of drones there’s one undeniable, inescapable fact. The drones are coming.
Oh, and increasingly, they’re armed… although how long all of that will continue for will be down to the UN, who later this year are going to debate whether or not to ban what they call “killer robots.”
Matthew Griffin Global Futurist, Tech Evangelist, X Prize Mentor ● Int'l Keynote Speaker ● Disruption, Futures and Innovation expert
Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank, is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is helping governments and multi-nationals re-invent everything from countries and cities to energy and smartphones. An award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker Matthew also mentors XPrize teams and is regularly featured on the BBC, Discovery, Kurzweil, Newsweek, TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them transform old industries, and create new ones, and shines a light on how new, powerful and democratised technologies are helping fuel disruption and accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change. Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.