US Navy to replace mine-detecting dolphins with underwater robots

dolphin us navy

The BBC reports this week that the US Navy is looking to replace its fleet of specially trained sea mammals with mine-detecting robots. For nearly 50 years, the Navy has been using dolphins and sea lions to detect, and sometimes defuse underwater mines, as part of its Sea Mammal Program. But this program will be phased out by 2017, as officials turn to more mechanized (and cost-effective) alternatives, such as the Knifefish underwater drone.

Announced earlier this year, the Knifefish is a torpedo-shaped unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), measuring some 20 feet in length. The vessel is still in development, though officials say that by 2017, it should be able to roam underwater for up to 16 hours, using sonar to identify any mines. The…

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