Self-Driving Trucks and DeepWater WarShips

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The future is closer than we think. Earlier this week six ‘convoys’ of semi-automated, self-driving, “smart” trucks completed the first European cross-border trip. The ‘Truck Platoons”, as its referred to, are a group of two or three trucks that require no driver controlling the vehicle, all the trucks are connected via wireless and the leading truck determines the route and speed of the platoon. European companies IVECO, Europe’s largest manufacturer of trucks, MAN, Scania and Swedish car company,Volvo, headed the initiative and aim to “revolutionize future road transport on Europe’s busy highways.” The self driving trucks traveled as far as Sweden and southern Germany.

Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch infrastructure said that “Truck platoons will ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Self driving vehicles also contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.” Even though the trucks are meant to be self driven with no human help, they are still “semi-automated” and require human driver on board. Self driving trucks will not be on the road just yet, road regulations across Europe still need to be ironed out, and  according to the guardian, truck makers need to “design  systems that enable communication between different trucks from different manufactures.” The Dutch aim to take a lead on the future of Truck platoons and plan on hosting  an informal summit within the European Union to discuss regulations changes that are needed to get these self driving trucks on the road.

A few days after the self-driving trucks arrived at their initial destination, Newsweek reported that the U.S. Navy designed and built a $20million, 132 foot long unarmed experimental ship they called the “Sea Hunter”, the self-driving and operating ship is designed to search for enemy submarines. A spokesperson from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency  describes the ship, as never needing a human to step foot aboard. They say the “autonomous vessel like Sea Hunter are important because they will help the U.S. compete similar “advancements” made by Russia and China.

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Steve Dipaola/Reuters

Like I mentioned earlier the Sea Monster is designed to perform RECON operations and stalk submarines for 2-3 months at a time, the ships remains unarmed, but according to Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert Work, if (when) weapons are added to the “Sea Hunter” a “human would always be in charge of making decisions about lethal force.” The Sea Hunter will also be able to “avoid other vessels using radar and cameras”, after two years of testing and meeting international standards, the Sea Hunter should be ready to begin its work patrolling the sea.

(VIA Newsweek/The Guardian)

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