The US Navy is testing new technology that allows it to field "drone boats" capable of maneuvering and defending friendly ships without direct human interaction. Where many military unmanned vehicles, such Predator drones, require a human operator, the boats have limited artificial intelligence that makes them capable of automatically swarming targets. They use a technology called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) that gCaptain says can be put into a transportable kit and installed on "virtually any type of small surface boat."
The Navy conducted its drone boat demonstration close to the anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole near Yemen in which 17 sailors were killed. The destroyer was the target of a small boat packed with explosives — the new unmanned vessels could potentially interdict such weapons without endangering human life. The new drone boats can synchronize with each other to co-ordinate automated assaults on enemy ships, but there's reportedly no danger of them going rogue and shooting at friendlies: Navy officials say that a real human would need to pull the trigger on any weapons fired from the unmanned platforms.