Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military Wireless Networking Science Technology

DARPA Wants To Seed the Ocean With Delayed-Action Robot Pods 67

Posted by timothy
from the mostly-for-spying dept.
coondoggie writes "This plan sounds a bit like a science fiction scenario where alien devices were planted in the ground thousands of years ago only to be awoken at some predetermined date to destroy the world. Only in this case it's the scientists at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency who want to develop a system of submersible pods that could reside in the world's oceans (presumably not in anyone's territorial waters) and be activated for any number of applications days, months or even years later."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DARPA Wants To Seed the Ocean With Delayed-Action Robot Pods

Comments Filter:
  • I make these (Score:1, Informative)

    I make these (have been since 2010), are they buying? Who do I get in touch with?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They'd become the Delayed-Action Robot Pods of America?

    • Delayed action = Wait until I get out of the pool before you turn it on. Who knows what it will do.

  • WTF DARPA? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:09AM (#42566245)

    I don't get it.

    http://www.benthos.com/undersea-acoustic-release-modem-SMART-SM75.asp

    The article must be glossing over what makes this unique. Do they want a factor of 10 reduction in price? I've been working on the problem of cheap deep water electronics for nearly a decade so this is relevant to my interests(honestly who in the field of oceanography hasn't? Nobody wants to pay a ship to go un-fuck a $100 science project and mass production of gizmos is not the core competency of scientists in most cases).

    DARPA is essentially throwing up their hands at the problem of locomotion and saying it's cheaper from an energy standpoint to just pepper the ocean with lots of sensors than to transport a single sensor over lots of territory pushing water out of the way of its course. "Sensors" is a pretty broad catch-all for payload and can vary in price significantly, impacting the truth of that assertion.

    Changing batteries isn't cheap so disposable is desirable. Why not just embed a cell phone in a block of epoxy or polyurethane? It is cheaper to drop ballast than it is to displace 100ATM of water, so they might as well settle on a solenoid fired shear pin or electric door strike type mechanism. Syntactic foam and you can do the whole thing with a cheap prepaid, a pic processor, and a solar cell. Battery life scales with price so that is a matter of mission endurance priorities.

    • saying it's cheaper from an energy standpoint to just pepper the ocean with lots of sensors than to transport a single sensor over lots of territory

      Well, yes. There are many scenarios where it would be very cost effective to monitor a large area with scattered smart sand grains, each equipped with enough sensors to do whatever and some method to report back. Toss out a few million of them and wait, then correlate the results being fed back. If some of the sand grains get trashed, oh well. You sent out lots of them. Some will survive.

      In a sense, this kind of tracking is nothing but motion capture on a very different scale than putting dots on a

    • What on Earth makes you think that they give a fuck about making it cheap? DARPA is a part of the Defense Department. We're talking about the only branch of the government that actually gets more money from Congress than they ask for.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      DARPA is essentially throwing up their hands at the problem of locomotion and saying it's cheaper from an energy standpoint to just pepper the ocean with lots of sensors than to transport a single sensor over lots of territory pushing water out of the way of its course.

      Have you seen how our military operates?
      The Army has hundreds of overseas bases that cost megabucks to build, operate, and staff... just to host an airport or signit or [other].
      They have no problem "pre-staging" a hundred million dollars worth of hardware on the off chance it might be needed in some random corner of the world.

      One of the problems with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is that the military has more or less emptied its overseas stashes and is now much less capable of responding to new events.
      The i

    • by icebike (68054)

      DARPA is essentially throwing up their hands at the problem of locomotion and saying it's cheaper from an energy standpoint to just pepper the ocean with lots of sensors

      Static Sensors is not the principal focus here. The navy has been using sonobuoys for decades, and yes they do just pepper the ocean with them.

      The payload of these pods would have active components, Waterborn or Airborn (drone or balloon) that could be triggered into action to provide eyes and ears on events of interest without having to wait till a carrier with drone capabilities arrived on scene. They are specifically talking about unarmed pods with surveillance payloads that lurk on the ocean floor, pe

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess this reinforces my notion that DARPA is made up of trekkies.

  • Security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:31AM (#42566395) Homepage

    These things will need some kind of command and control interface. It will have to be deployed for years, decades perhaps. If anyone finds a security vulnerability they get to own a global botnet of actual robots. Considering drones have already proven prone to hacking I'd be a little bit concerned about this.

    • Re:Security (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @08:18AM (#42566703)

      Maybe a list of one-time pads kept securely in the DoD? I could definetely see value in being able to secure a coastline by sailing around dumping a load of smart mines armed with supercavitating torpedos and advanced sensors with the ability to tell friend from foe. Or even better, send a sub around an enemy's coastline and drop them invisibly, break in case of war. Instant blockade! Given how important control of the ocean is, this could well be an overwhelming advantage.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        I don't think your plan of "deploy them in case we might need them later" is a terribly good one. International law requires you to announce any sea minefields you create (and as far as I know it doesn't make an exception for "but we haven't armed the mines yet") so you'd immediately tip off the country in question, most likely resulting in the rest of the world wanting to know why you mined the waters of a country you're not even at war with. Of course the "not at war" status might be open to interpretatio
        • by icebike (68054)

          Its not a mine, so you don't have to disclose them. There is no ordinance payload.

          These are not mines. They do not explode.

          Let me state that in another easier to understand way: THESE ARE NOT MINES.

          Rest of your rant is pretty pointless until you RTFA.

          • by Jesus_666 (702802)
            My post is not about what the article talks about, it's a reply to its parent post (as evidenced by it being submitted as a reply and not a completely new post). That post talks about deploying "smart mines armed with supercavitating torpedos" and keeping them inactive so that they can just be brought online "in case of war" - essentially CAPTOR mines with a modified fuze and a beefed-up detection system.

            In other terms there is an ordinance payload, the payload does explode and they are most assuredly min
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        A one time pad is fine if your implementation is absolutely perfect. Can you be sure there are no vulnerabilities in the sub's software?

        Given how important control of the ocean is, this could well be an overwhelming advantage.

        Yes, especially when your own drone subs start ramming your ships because someone fooled their GPS, just like Iran did with your airborne drones. Unlike airborne drones your enemy could have decades to work on cracking your security while the subs sit idle.

    • "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @07:05AM (#42566475) Homepage Journal

    They're called mines

  • Read it as:
    "China Wants To Seed the Ocean With Delayed-Action Robot Pods".

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @08:45AM (#42566809) Journal

    Sure, the ongoing concept of robots that can do something eventually is specifically novel, but the idea of submerging (concealing) something in the ocean for later activation and use is the old idea of captor mines - a concept at least 50-60 years old.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_60_CAPTOR [wikipedia.org]

    Their concept is little more than a replacement of the torpedo/warhead with a robotic intelligence-gathering module.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Their concept is little more than a replacement of the torpedo/warhead with a robotic intelligence-gathering module.

      A robotic intelligence-gathering module that lies inert at 4000 feet deep doing nothing until you need an aerial reconnaissance platform in some remote corner of the globe. At which time you trigger it remotely, if floats to the surface, launches a balloon or remotely piloted aircraft with satellite up-link capabilities.

      Somehow I think that's reasonably novel.

      You've managed to totally misread TFA. There is no plan to have automated munitions deployed. These are not autonomous area denial weapons.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:31AM (#42567095)

    especially at some future date.

    Land mines also have this problem

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      Modern sea mines are programmed with target profiles based on passive audio and magnetic signatures.
      They can not only be programmed to single out a specific class of vessel, but even a single vessel within a class.

    • by icebike (68054)

      These are not weapons. READ TFA and stop making a fool out of yourself.

  • ... of pods today. Good thing. The lobstah catch has been pretty bad here in Maine.

  • Please don't do it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dave69 (2786111) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:45AM (#42567591)
    Dear America, please don't mine the entire ocean with giant robotic sea mines, just because you can. signed, the rest of the world
    • by icebike (68054)

      Dear Dave69: Please read TFA, These are not weapons and they are not mines.

      • by dave69 (2786111)
        well they sound like mines,could look like mines, could act like mines, are being researched by the US military, will be under the control of the US military, and can have ANY payloads attached the US military see fit. In fact its such a great idea , I can believe no one thought of it before ........... oh wait....
    • Dear rest of the world. As an American, my government's behavior (both parties) is often just as disconcerting to me as you, despite being patriotic and supportive of many things of which the current administration is apologetic. Please note, this is not an official communication on behalf of my nation or its government, is not necessarily representative of any of its policies, positions, or official propaganda, and that I am not an official, quasi, or de facto spokesperson authorized to act in any such cap
      • by dave69 (2786111)
        Indeed, covering Giant robotic Sea Mines, with so much legal astroturf that they sound like a good idea to the American government, does not unfortunately remove the fact that they are giant robotic sea mines. If the US needs any help , from whats left of the British navy, I'm sure a treaty can be fabricated to get us to lay a few for you too....
        • The astroturf is because of the billion unconstitutional laws and infringements on right of speech and act that you have to be careful: just filling out forms is, according to lawyers, "practicing law" these days--and as they possess an all-powerful guild which everything else references, we're screwed until they're all incarcerated as enemies of the nation, lawful government, States, and people. And I'm sure Britain would love to pick-up that tech too. Regards to like minds and kin across the pond.
  • I'm reminded of the reason Band-Aids exist, because well meaning frieghtened short term memory folks sometimes play with double edged swords.
  • They're not mines....it's the latest in nursing home technology. Just a new way for America's elderly to "retire".

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

Working...