HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It might be years before self-driving vehicles make it to Hawaii roads.
But a milestone for self-autonomous vessels has already been made in Hawaii waters.
Earlier this year, an unmanned, 132-foot trimaran funded by the U.S. Navy and christened the Sea Hunter sailed from San Diego to Pearl Harbor and back ― without a single crew member on board.
The vessel is the first autonomous, unmanned vessel capable of traveling for long periods of time and over vast stretches of open ocean.
But the Navy envisions the prototype vessel as part of what could be a new fleet of autonomous ships. A second vessel ― the Sea Hunter II ― is already in development.
“The Sea Hunter program is leading the world in unmanned, fully autonomous naval ship design and production,” Gerry Fasano, president of ship builder Leidos Defense Group, said in a news release.
“The recent long-range mission is the first of its kind and demonstrates to the U.S. Navy that autonomy technology is ready to move from the developmental and experimental stages to advanced mission testing.”
Fasano added that during the California-Hawaii trip and back, personnel only boarded the Sea Hunter for short periods from an escort vessel to check electrical and propulsion systems.