China has unveiled a new semi-autonomous ship nearly 90 meters long. It will carry, launch and coordinate more than 50 autonomous drones, including aircraft, water vehicles, and submarines.
The construction of Zhu Hai Yun began last July in Guangzhou. This is the first such project in the world. The ship has an autonomous platform, which will house everything needed to perform a holistic operation – drones, boats, and submarines.
China does not plan for the ship to enter seaports with heavy traffic on its own. It will be on the remote control until it is on the high seas. Then its autonomous systems will take on any mission.
To do this, the ship is equipped with everything necessary. It can launch its boats, submarines, and drones, communicate with them, and perform coordinated tasks. This includes conducting “task-oriented adaptive networking to achieve three-dimensional views of specific targets”, according to the shipbuilding company.
After completing the mission, the drones can land back on the deck of the aircraft carrier. The ship is also able to retrieve boats and submarines at sea after they’ve made their rounds.
“The Intelligent, unmanned ship is a beautiful new ‘marine species’ that will bring revolutionary changes for ocean observation,” said Professor Dake Chen of the Chinese Academy of Science’s School of Oceanography.
Basically, the ship is presented as a platform for exploring the oceans. However, according to the Chinese side, it has a “military capability to intercept and expel invasive targets,”, which is a priority for many autonomous maritime projects.