When you are spying on someone (not that you should, really), the last thing you want is to spook your subject with the obvious. That said, we can see why some military is so keen in developing intelligence-gathering unmanned vehicle in the likeness animals. Ok, may be such biomimicry is not solely for deception; it could be for the sake of harnessing the natural ability wildlife has to offer, such as the ability to transverse over undulating terrains like the Wildcat Robot. Anyways, the latest to join this creepy spy-in-disguise is GhostSwimmer, a five-foot long, 100 lbs fish-like robot that is destined to ply the water for inspecting the hulls of friendly ships, or more serious tasks like intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
However, since GhostSwimmer will eventually be part of the U.S. Navy’s arsenal, we are obliged to think the former is kind of its secondary task. It’s a no brainer, right? Why do you need not to be seen or be inconspicuous when you are checking out the ships’ hull? So much for the tons of money put into PR, eh? Well, I am just saying… Anywho, whatever activities the U.S. government has in mind is none of our business; all we know is, GhostSwimmer is an interesting piece of tech. Simply because it looks eerily like a shark, complete with dorsal and pectoral fins, and even moves like one. Like a real fish, it uses its tail for propulsion and control and is capable of maneuvering in water as shallow as 10 inches, or if required, dive to 300 feet deep.
Control is via a 500-foot tether, or it could swim independently below the surface too and much like the submarines of the bygone era, it will periodically surface to communicate. The development of the GhostSwimmer could also be a relieve for some animals too, as it could replace the current bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions used by the navy to spot underwater mines and recover equipment. It is noteworthy that the GhostSwimmer here is not the first ‘spy fish’. That honor probably belongs to “Charlie“, a robotic fish that has a striking resemblance to a catfish. The U.S. Navy concluded the final testing of GhostSwimmer Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV), but where exactly it will be used is still undecided.
As for those of you who are curious about how much each of this “shark” cost, the navy remains tight-lipped in that respect. Then again, we wouldn’t even want to go there. Do we? Just remember this: the next time you see a dorsal poking out of the water, it may not necessary be the real deal (but get out of the water anyway). Catch the robotic fish in action in the video below.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III/Released
via Bold Ride