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Surface Navy 2022: US Navy shows greater interest in integrating autonomous systems on manned platforms

The US Navy (USN) appears to be keen about integrating autonomous hull, mechanical, and electric (HME) systems on manned platforms, according to Tom Reynolds, senior director of Business Development, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), Technical Solutions for Unmanned Systems.

The navy recently issued a request for information associated with such integration work, Reynolds said during a HII media roundtable on 11 January at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, which started the same day in Arlington, Virginia.

Integrating autonomous systems on manned vessels would help with the development of unmanned systems and platforms, he added.

“We don't have to jump to unmanned right away,” he said. “It's a good idea – the integration of autonomy on manned platforms and run it in the background, to generate date and be assessed. We're not trying to replace anyone, but it can aid an overwhelmed bridge crew.”

According to him, such systems could possibly have helped prevent some of deadly navy surface ship collisions of the previous decade. “Maybe if there had been some artificial intelligence aiding some of the decision-making, that could have been some help to the bridge crew.”

“That is closer to something we could get into the hands of the fleet [sooner]. You take a ship like a destroyer or a cruiser and put some artificial intelligence or machine learning on a manned vessel to be studied and evaluated before jumping right to a large USV [unmanned surface vessel],” he added.

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