Developing and Evaluating Safe Navigation of Autonomous Ships at Sea

Bob Touchton

Chief Autonomy Scientist, Leidos

Autonomous Ships at sea will encounter manned vessels during their voyage. It is not enough just to avoid a collision, but it must do so in a fashion that obeys the international regulations on how collision prevention and avoidance maneuvers must be conducted (called COLREGS). Further, those maneuvers should conform to expected operation by a ship that is being piloted by a human… in other words, the autonomous ship should try to avoid maneuvers that would surprise or alarm nearby manned vessels. This presentation describes the Sea Hunter that was developed for the DARPA ACTUV Program, its autonomy architecture, and how its autonomous behaviors are being evaluated to confirm safe and COLREGS-compliant navigation.