Chinese firm Yunzhou Tech has deployed its unmanned surface vessels for many purposes over the past ten years – water sampling, public light shows, oceanographic research, security patrols – but it is preparing to take its technology to a new level for national security missions. Yunzhou is working on swarming technology that would allow multiple drones to engage in “cooperative confrontation” with undesired surface vessels in order to “besiege and expel” them, according to the Chinese Communist Party outlet Global Times.
Yunzhou Tech is China’s first and most successful autonomous-vessel company. From its original business in water-quality monitoring drones for rivers and lakes, it has expanded gradually into near-shore unmanned security boat and research boat products. The new swarming system would weaponize these capabilities and put them to use for China’s “maritime development and rights protection” efforts, guarding “Chinese sea territory,” according to Global Times.
The drones are intended to share sensor data, track target vessels at high speed, conduct intercepts and “expel” intruding vessels. They are capable of autonomous decision-making as a group, according to Global Times.