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— Military

Startpoint project imagines the pride of the Royal Navy in 2050

In 1906, the battleship HMS Dreadnought entered into service with the Royal Navy. With her 12-in (305 mm) guns, high speed capabilities and other innovations, she rendered all other major warships obsolete. Inspired by this revolutionary design, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) think-tank project Startpoint has unveiled its vision of a Navy vessel 35 years from now with the Dreadnought 2050 – an automated fusion-powered surface warship equipped with lasers, hypersonic missiles, a high-tech composite hull, and torpedoes that can travel at over 300 knots (345 mph, 555 km/h).

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— Drones

Micro-flyer drone could help a robot to fight fires on ships

This week, the US Office of Naval Research released details regarding a demo of its Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) conducted last November. The robot, as its name implies, is designed to help human crews fight fires in the close confines of naval vessels. In order to get to those fires quicker, SAFFiR may ultimately receive some help itself from an autonomous drone, that was also part of the demonstration. Read More
— Good Thinking

New maritime monitoring system would draw on existing satellites

According to a scientist from the University of Leicester in the UK, the search for missing ships and sea-crossing aircraft – such as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – would be much easier if existing satellites were simply used differently. Dr. Nigel Bannister is developing a system in which spacecraft that already keep an eye on the land could also turn their attention to the sea. Read More
— Marine

New navigation module to help future freighters act as their own sails

In 2013, Norway's Lade AS unveiled designs for Vindskip, a "hybrid" merchant ship which aims to harness the wind courtesy of a specially-shaped hull, in the process taking the burden off of its natural-gas powered engines and saving fuel. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute's Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) have been working to help realize this goal by developing an algorithm that will allow the Vindskip's navigation system to use the combination of power and sail at its most economical. Read More
— Robotics

Robot developed to perform ballast tank inspections on ships

In order to maintain a consistent buoyancy as their cargo loads change, ocean-going ships pump seawater in and out of their ballast tanks. Needless to say, that salty water isn't exactly the least-corrosive liquid in the world. That's why crews of inspectors regularly have to go inside those steel tanks, to check for damage. Thanks to the German/Dutch RoboShip project, however, autonomous robots may soon be performing the task. Read More