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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Robots vs. pirates

From the BBC:

Passengers aboard the Seabourn Spirit, a luxury liner sailing off the coast of Somalia, came face to face last month with the growing problem of piracy, especially planned assaults and ocean hijackings using fast boats and sophisticated weapons. As the pirates go hi-tech, so ships must use more advanced technology in their defence, according to the latest report from the International Maritime Bureau. Anti-piracy technologies endorsed by the bureau include an unmanned spy plane, the Inventus UAV, for aerial surveillance of risky waters. Others include Secure-Ship, a 9,000 volt electric fence that when rigged around ship's deck stops the pirates from boarding, and ShipLoc, a hidden tagging device for ships that allows satellites to track ships on behalf of their owners even after a hijacking. In their defence against pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Seabourn Spirit's crew used an acoustic weapon that focused a deafening alarm sound on the attackers, hastening their retreat. In the future, robotics could play a role in anti-piracy defences, though the technology has yet endorsed by the International Maritime Bureau.