The U.S. military has unveiled plans to create a drone that resembles a shark. The underwater drone nicknamed “GhostSwimmer” comes out of the military’s Silent NEMO project. Yes, it’s named after the Disney film Finding Nemo.
Although the underwater drone looks like a shark, the bionic fish is actually styled using the movement patterns of a tuna. Christopher Harmer, senior naval analyst with the Institute for the Study of War explained that it’s an attempt to “take the lessons of Darwinism, and apply them.”
The GhostSwimmer can go up to 300 feet deep, and joins a rapidly growing fleet of underwater vehicles that are aimed at providing security for sailors on their missions. “GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and sailors safe,” said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced System Group.
“It’s a big leap forward in terms of propulsion,” Harmer said. The propeller of a ship is not as efficient as nature’s own underwater guidance systems. “We haven’t been able to mechanically replicate what a fish does until now.”
The Navy isn’t just investing in cyborg tuna, though. I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly. They’ve also been creating robotic jellyfish to play man-o-war. No one expects puffy, robotic jellies to spy on them! Or eels! There are also Office of Naval Research projects that will perfectly mimic the snakelike undulations of the eel.
At the moment, the cyborg tuna shark is a recon drone, but that could change. The GhostSwimmer could theoretically carry a payload
“Right now we’re using them for gathering environmental data. As the technology matures, we’re certainly going to use them for reconnaissance, and eventually, we’re going to weaponize them,” Harmer said.