An unmanned ship could sail the seas at any time of year, never to be slowed down by human illness or mishaps. Moreover, it could take over mundane yet necessary duties, or extremely risky operations.
The U.S. Navy has teamed up with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to put together a completely unmanned, autonomous, robotic ship concept — the NOMARS (No Manning Required, Ship). If successful, this could be a huge jump forward over current unmanned surface vessel developments.
The NOMARS ship would most likely be much smaller than regular crewed vessels as its designers could remove all sections related to humans out of the ship. Gone are the berths, the ship's bridge, the combat information center, the mess, the recreation room, the bathrooms, and even the hallways.
The concept ship sits low in the water and comes with a high mast to capture all communication and sensors. As per the artist's illustration of NOMARS, it would have four angled launchers for missiles. No windows, rails, or walkways would be necessary.
One thing to note, though, DARPA has cautioned that it may not even be possible to put together a completely unmanned ship, but if that is possible it would be a huge asset to the Navy of the future.
For instance, a ship such as the NOMARS could take over the required duties that are plainly boring but necessary such as sailing down the coastline of certain countries and eavesdropping on their radio, radar, and cell phone communications. In slightly more exciting times, it could be used for especially risky maneuvers and hopefully save human lives.
In the future, a NOMARS-type of ship is inevitable in Navies around the world. So don't be too surprised when in 30 years' time you see robo-ships sailing the seas for the U.S. Navy, or U.S. Air Force unmanned planes swooping through the skies.