by Brandon Mercer


(CBS SF) — Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies wanted “sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads” but couldn’t get them, yet the real U.S. Navy now has drone sharks, and while the robots don’t have lasers, the “GhostSwimmer” UUV is a formidable weapon ripped right out of fiction.

The military completed tests on the robo-shark at the Virginia Beach, VA Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS) on Thursday, December 11th.  You’re forgiven if you missed the news last week, as we were worried about needing to grow gills as we swam out from under 4 inches of rain in the Bay Area.

The thing swims like a shark, moving its tail, and can operate in as little as 10 inches of water, sneaking up on enemy ships unseen, that is unless of course the enemy is scared of five-foot long, 100-pound black sharks in the water.

(U.S. Navy)

(U.S. Navy)

(U.S. Navy)

(U.S. Navy)

The robot shark project is one of many science-fiction-turned-reality projects developed by the chief of naval operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO. Silent NEMO actually looks at all sorts of animal-robot concepts, known as “biomimicry”

“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 Systems Group.

The group posted video on its Facebook page.

Conceivably, like so many drones originally designed for surveillance, it could also be adapted to attach explosives to enemy ships.

It is controlled via laptop with a 500-foot tether, but it can also be programmed to gather data autonomously, before reconnecting with its controller.  It must reconnect to the tether to transmit data, though.

So, what about those frickin’ laser weapons?  It actually may have a laser.  The Navy isn’t divulging exactly what types of sensors are packed into its surveillance pod, but it wouldn’t be a laser that burns holes in ships or anything. Just a possible laser for optics and navigation.  Again, the Navy won’t confirm or deny a laser.

And, if you really still want a shark with a frickin’ laser, Think Geek has you covered.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f2eb/

And we couldn’t resist… enjoy.

Full release from U.S. Navy communications:

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=84845

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