The incredible innovations made possible by the United States military never fail to impress, and the unmanned SeaFox falls right into line with some of the coolest automated gadgetry lurking beneath the water.
Iran is on the verge of closing the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic location the US. refuses to lose access to, and the SeaFox is one of the key components that might keep Hormuz open. The SeaFox's function is to detect and eradicate mines, of both the drifting and floating variety.
Not only is this vehicle armed with a TV camera, sonar capabilities, and explosives, it also manages to house all of that tech goodness in a four-foot-long, 100-pound frame. In other words, if you stood this submarine on its end, it'd be shorter than most 12-year-olds--quite small for such a potentially destructive device.
Naval captains control the subs by a fiber optic cable, which streams the video from the submerged camera back to the ship. The reach of the SeaFox is a bit limited, which makes sense considering its size: It can go as deep as 300 meters underwater and reach a top speed of six knots, or about seven miles per hour.
The submarines cost around $100,000 each to produce, which, considering reports of military spending might not sound too steep. That may be so if not for the fact that a successful elimination of a mine also leads to the destruction of the SeaFox itself. Yep, every mission is a suicide mission for these remote-controlled subs (hence the aforementioned explosives).
It will be fascinating to see how worthwhile the SeaFox turns out to be, considering its high cost and irreplaceability. I can't imagine much could be salvaged after a submarine strapped with explosives detonates a mine.
Actually, make that none.
Jacob Siegal spends a vast majority of his time surrounded with and invested in technology and media, so he decided he may as well start writing about it. You can find more of his writing at Game Rant and his topical tweets @JacobSiegal.
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This story, "US Navy's unmanned SeaFox submarines play a dangerous game of Minesweeper" was originally published by PCWorld.