While we worry about self-driving cars, an Israeli company has built a self-driving warship. The robot boat, called the Seagull, is designed to go where manned boats fear to tread water.
The Seagull isn’t an all-out attack machine. Instead, it is designed to be deployed in ocean-going minefields. The 40-foot vessel is sent into a dangerous area, and it commences its search, using sonar coupled with diving drones to comb every cubic inch of water and identify, classify, and—ultimately—destroy mines. It also has anti-submarine-warfare functions, and can detect and "neutralize" human divers intent on sneaking up on and attacking the boat.
You’d think that a self-driving boat would be a lot easier to make than a self-driving car, if only because you don’t have to worry about following the roads, or taking out pedestrians, but the Seagull’s only autonomy comes in the search. The boat is actually remote-piloted to the search zone by humans.
But the aim is the same—to stop people getting hurt. While autonomous cars are already proving much safer than cars driven by easily distracted humans, military tech like the Seagull also aims to keep people safe, by keeping them as far away from danger as possible.