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Australia Will Use Robot Boats to Find Asylum Seekers at Sea

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One of the unmanned robot boats at sea.

Australia is deploying unmanned robot boats to patrol its waters.

Credit: Ocius Technology

Australia is deploying unmanned robot boats to patrol its waters and monitor weather and wildlife, as well as identifying boats potentially transporting asylum seekers.

The Bluebottle vessels are driven by wind, wave, and solar power to maintain a steady 5-knot (roughly 6mph/9kph) speed.

The robots are equipped with cameras, radar, and sensors to detect transponder signals from ships and aircraft, and can carry instruments for measuring temperature, pressure, and other meteorological factors.

The Bluebottles tow sonar for tracking wildlife and submarines, and feature automatic collision avoidance with only occasional human supervision.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has authorized Bluebottle patrols in Australia's exclusive economic zone; if the drones detect potentially unauthorized vessels, they can investigate, with Royal Australian Navy vessels dispatched to intercept ships if deemed necessary by Bluebottle operators.

From New Scientist
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