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22/04/21: U.S. Navy Puts Unmanned Speedboat Through Its Paces

Built by MARTAC, the autonomous vessel can be used for military, commercial and scientific operations.

SAN DIEGO — At first glance, it was an eerie sight: an apparently crewless speedboat skimming along the waters of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego.

On closer examination, the U.S. Navy was putting the unmanned vessel through a series of test runs.

The craft, known as the MANTAS T38 Devil Ray, is shown undergoing maneuvers on April 17. A few days later, the U.S. Pacific Fleet put the manned and unmanned capabilities of the vehicle through various operational scenarios to measure its fighting advantages.

The MANTAS is a next-generation unmanned speed boat from MARTAC. Such vessels are high- performance, fully autonomous unmanned surface vehicles developed specifically for larger-scale military, commercial and scientific operations.

The company says they are designed to work “beyond human capability” for speed, stealth and maneuverability, which allows them to augment forces involved in harbor, port and fleet operations.

The MANTAS is operated via a command-and-control user interface that allows it to be networked and “swarmed” into groups for operations over large areas. They are deployable from both ship and shore, and can be transported to a launch location on a tilt trailer.

In addition to its military uses, the Mantas can also be configured for scientific and commercial missions, such as hydrographic surveys, port and harbor security, search-and-rescue operations and humanitarian or disaster relief. The MANTAS vehicle is slated to be fully operational this fall.

The use of such autonomous vehicles is growing on land and water.

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Fern Siegel)

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