The purveyors of fine nanotech-enabled lightweight boats at Zyvex Technologies have been in touch to tell Gizmag about their latest creation, the LRV-17, developed to combat piracy off the coast of Africa. At 17.35 m (57 ft), the LRV-17 is a slightly bigger boat than Zyvex's unmanned Piranha USV
, but unlike its piscine predecessor the LRV-17 can support of a crew of six for up to five days. Thanks to its weight, Zyvex claims its 1500 nautical mile (2778 km) range can outdistance other boats of its size by a factor of three - hence LRV, which stands for long-range vessel.
Piracy on the high seas of the 21st century requires 21st century solutions. As part of the on-going effort
to curb attacks on shipping, the United States Navy will use a UAV helicopter to test a new sensor system in the waters off California during the summer of 2012. This new 3D sensor package in combination with new computer algorithms will allow the Navy to more accurately identify pirate vessels hiding among innocent shipping on the sea lanes with much greater speed and much less manpower.
You've heard of UAVs, unmanned remote controlled military aircraft; but what about USVs? Standing for Unmanned Surface Vehicle, a USV is quite simply an unmanned boat, like Zyvex Marine's Piranha concept. We've looked at USVs before, and the Piranha specifically in early 2010
; but what was then a prototype under development is now a fully-fledged production craft, having shipped its first unit last November. "Our production facility is closer to rocket science than traditional boat building," says Zyvex Marine VP Byron Nutley of his boat - the only one in the world, it's claimed, that is made out of nanomaterials. But does the Piranha have the technological bite to match the hyperbole, and what does this mean for naval warfare?
Currently being developed by defense contractor QinetiQ in collaboration with the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), "Blackfish" is a robotic jet-ski designed specifically to patrol harbors and search for underwater intruders. The remote-controlled craft carries an array of sensors that allow it to "see" under water and can travel at speeds of 40 mph (64 km/h) as well as tracking at lower speeds than conventional jet-skis.
Despite the commonly held view – among schoolboys anyway – of pirates as a bunch of peg-legged, eye-patch wearing scurvy dogs from the 1700’s (or thereabouts), maritime piracy continues to be a serious problem – and it’s on the rise. To combat this scourge of the seas BAE Systems
has developed a non-lethal laser designed to act as a deterrent against pirate attacks on commercial vessels, such as oil tankers and container ships.
The recent incident involving a the seizure of a Ukranian ship carrying 33 tanks off the coast of Somalia has turned the spotlight on the problem of international piracy. Roman Abramovich is paying attention. The Chelsea soccer club owner is spending a £200 million (USD$340 million) chunk of his £11.7billion personal fortune on a mega-yacht
that will be well equipped to deal with such a threat: armor plating, bullet-proof windows, a missile-detection system and an escape submarine. Oh yeah, and at a massive 550ft long it will also be the largest private yacht ever built.