One If By Air, Two If By Sea: Unmanned Surface Vehicles

The speed at which drones went from classified military platforms to ubiquitous consumer products is staggering, and the next chapter in that proliferation is starting to unfold. Its location? The sea. Unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are essentially drone ships. They bring a lot of the capabilities that were developed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – such as a high degree of versatility, long operational times, and a scalable amount of autonomy – to the nautical arena.

As was the case for aerial drones, USVs have their origins within the military, and much of the work done to improve their capabilities was undertaken in order to improve their effectiveness for military use. Brad Pilsl, an Unmanned Systems Strategic Lead with Booz Allen Hamilton, told The Cipher Brief that the military aspects of USV development are tied into an emerging concept in the U.S. Navy called Distributed Lethality.

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