The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, is launching a 132-foot long drone that hunts for submarines in two months.
The news is even made better (or weirder, depending on how you look at it) by the fact that the submarine-hunting drone will be unmanned.
Named the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel and given the nickname of ACTUV, the massive drone will be carrying out its maiden mission of tracking stealth submarines autonomously on April 7.
According to DARPA, the ACTUV program revolves around three main goals.
The first goal is to develop a stealth submarine seeker that will not need humans to be onboard, necessitating a design that changes a lot of things about the traditional vessel. This would also lead to submarine hunters that are smaller and cheaper than previous designs.
The second goal is to advance unmanned maritime vessel technology to be able to carry out missions over long periods of time and distances with little supervision needed from humans.
The third and last goal of the program is to have ACTUV use non-conventional sensor systems for tracking down stealth submarines.
At a media event, DARPA director Arati Prabhakar and deputy director Steve Walker presented the ACTUV, with Walker adding that the drone could also have other roles aside from hunting submarines such as providing supplies to other vessels, carrying out logistics and detecting undersea explosives.
The 132-foot ACTUV will weigh 140 tons and will be bigger than most autonomous ships, but still smaller compared to most vessels of the U.S. Navy.
The ACTUV will not be entering military service right away though, as over its first 18 months in operation, it will be focused on long-range journeys for testing its capabilities and working out any technical difficulties that it could encounter.
The unmanned submarine hunter is not the only thing that the agency is busy with though. Late last month, reports revealed that DARPA is developing an implantable chip which would connect the human brain to a computer for facilitating data delivery. The chip's military application would be for troops to acquire information faster on the position of the enemy and the instructions of superiors.