China has built a shark drone to spy on and hunt down enemy ships and submarines.
The sea robot can move at speeds of six knots and will help conduct reconnaissance, as well as search and destroy missions for China’s military.
Developed independently by Beijing-based Boya Gongdao Robot Technology, the unmanned device was unveiled at the 7th China Military Intelligent Technology Expo.
And it has already been deployed for use.
Most underwater drones can be fired out of a sub’s torpedo tube. However, it is unclear how the Robo-Shark will be launched.
Other functions of the shark drone include search and rescue, battlefield surveillance, hydrological survey, communications relay, and underwater tracking missions, according to a report in the Global Times.
It features minimal noise, long endurance, and high flexibility. It also operates using artificial intelligence without the need of an operator.
The project to build the drone was financed by the People’s Liberation Army in the 1990s, the South China Morning Post reports.
And it was first tested in the Taiwan Strait more than 10 years ago, but its existence has only just become public.
During trials, it is said to have been able to detect a dummy sub, identify where it came from, and accurately fire at it with a torpedo.
Professor Liang Guolong, who led the 2010 testing, said it was hoped the drones would eventually be able to hunt in packs.
“The needs of future underwater warfare bring new development opportunities for unmanned platforms,” the researchers said in a paper, published in the Journal of Harbin Engineering University earlier this month.
Some analysts fear the paper was released as a precursor to China invading self-ruled Taiwan.
But such technology also sends a strong signal to the US and its allies about what they may be up against if they step in to defend the island nation.
The shark was just one of a number of China’s latest military intelligent technologies displayed at the expo to be used on land, sea and air as the country looks to meet the demands of future warfare.
Other devices included the 1.2 ton Pathbreaker unmanned ground vehicle, developed by Beijing North Vehicle Group Corporation under the state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation.
It can reach top speeds of 30km an hour and is equipped with an armed reconnaissance system which allows it to conduct reconnaissance, fire assault, patrol, search and destroy operations, as well as strike guidance in complicated terrain at high mobility.
The mini-tank can be controlled remotely or automatically follow combat personnel while using its own AI to avoid obstacles.