Trident Warrior 2011 (TW 11) Features Robot Boat

Trident Warrior 2011 (TW 11) came to a conclusion after members completed all 70 of their planned experiments which involved testing new technologies, tactics and procedures August, 1 aboard USS WASP (LHD 1).

Trident Warrior's goal is to assist the war fighter in combating the ever present threats of terrorism on the high-seas and in the cyber arena.

A common unmanned surface vehicle patrols for intruders during Trident Warrior 2011. The experimental boat can operate autonomously or by remote. The Trident Warrior experiment, directed by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, temporarily deploys advanced capabilities on ships to collect real-world data and feedback during an underway experimentation period. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Youngblood/Released)

While operating off the coast of Virginia, July 25 to August 1, Sailors from Wasp and engineers from United States Fleet Forces Command and Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, Calif. conducted research and experiments ranging from testing artificially controlled unmanned surface vessels to sensory inter-operability between joint military aircraft.

"This was the best Trident Warrior we've ever had," said Mr. Brad Poeltler, deputy director of Trident Warrior-Fleet Experimentation. "The data that was collected was phenomenal and I believe it's going to take us in a direction far exceeding our expectations."

During their time aboard Wasp, the ship's crew worked with TW11 engineers to conduct explorations into the feasibility of using a computerized 'brain' to enhance vessels that could be used to protect ships within foreign harbors and ports.

"We are implementing the same 'brain' that the Mars Exploration Rover is using to do this," said Poeltler. "The 'brain' will control all functionality of the vessel while simultaneously providing it with concise computations on how to assess and engage a possible threat to the ship it is protecting. We've also prepared this mechanism on a variety of small boats to see whether it will be practical to employ lethal or non-lethal applications later this year."

As to the "brain's" ability to function only as a singular module, the system will allow itself to be used on multiple platforms in a form of sequencing called "Sliding Autonomy."

"This technology will provide better efficiency when safeguarding assets," said Poeltler. "Four boats equipped with the 'brain' will be able to communicate with one another that there is a target in the vicinity. The first boat will challenge [the target], if it doesn't think it has a high chance of defeating the threat, it will communicate with the next vessel in line to move in and do its job and so forth."

Executing this exercise wasn't just about applying weapon systems to ships traveling on the oceans; it also gave an opportunity for all services to build upon existing systems.

"We've looked at the possibilities digitally connecting aircraft with their own unique brand of data collection abilities and called the method 'Netted Sensors," said Poeltler. "We've used the E-2C Hawkeye, an airborne command and control center with a very unique long range surveillance radar, and coupled it with the existing real-time visual optics of the Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle."

By enveloping these two systems together, it will not only bring about effective command and control for the troops on the ground, but will provide the commanders a better picture of what's going on in the battle space, therefore eliminating the need to wait on information that is hindered by each system's own technical limitations. We want every platform to become a sensor, and every sensor a platform to engage situations before they become a threat.

With experiments completed, Poeltler and his team of scientists have already begun the planning stages of Trident Warrior 2012 and beyond.

"We're already taking all the data that we've collected and are in beginning stages of processing it," said Poeltler. "We'll make an analysis and then determine what works and will make recommendations to our superiors. I believe that we are in store for a good time."

Assisting the Trident Warrior staff to complete these tasks was a team effort for many Wasp Sailors. For the crew, this was chance to show off their ability to interact in the joint environment.

"Wasp was a great platform to host this evolution," said Poeltler. "Everyone from the commanding officer on down did everything in their power to ensure that we had what we needed, when we needed it. The professionalism that the crew conveyed was astounding and I can't wait to come back."

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