File under “solutions looking for a problem”:
Sure enough, in February, one defense exec said armed, robotic boats would make better pirate-fighters than traditional naval vessels — a highly dubious claim. And now Austria’s Schiebel Group is pushing its robotic, S-100 “Camcopter,” equipped with advanced sensors, as a pirate early-warning for commercial vessels, plying Somali waters.
The three-year-old Camcopter design is popular with organizations working to “de-mine” old battlefields, and with oil companies, for pipeline monitoring. But the 10-foot-long, 200-pound bird, can also be flown from tankers and other large vessels, in order to search ahead for pirates, according to Schiebel. The company told Aviation News, in June, that a Saudi tanker operator has already “shown interest” in buying Camcopters for Somalia duty. But it’s worth noting that the U.S. Coast Guard stresses alert watchmen, sailing fast, and pulling up a ship’s ladder — not some expensive technology – as the best methods for beating pirates.
That said, I’d love to have one of these birds to play with–very cool beach toy.
[Photo from Marine Buzz via Wired’s Danger Room.]