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How AI Could Save a Submarine from Attack

The underwater ocean world is an ecosystem with lots of different sounds.

So naval forces have traditionally relied on so-called “golden ears,” or musicians and other individuals with particularly sharp hearing, to detect the specific signals coming from an enemy submarine.

But given the overload of data today, distinguishing between false alarms and actual dangers has become more difficult.  That’s why “Thales is working on “Deep Learning” algorithms capable of recognizing the particular “song” of a submarine, much as the “Shazam” app helps you identify a song you hear on the radio”, says Dominique Thubert, Thales Underwater Systems, which is specialized in sonar systems for submarines, surface warships, and aircraft. 

These algorithms, attached to  submarines, surface ship or drones, will help naval forces sort through and classify information in order to detect attacks early on. “Equipping  our military vessels with a higher-level artificial intelligence is the answer to the increasing size and complexity of data to be processed as well as the need to reduce staff,” says Thubert.

 More intelligent, autonomous systems are also being developed for Mine Warfare , to move from conventional autonomy to collaborative autonomy. Instead of just operating on a pre-defined path, for example,  several underwater drones will be able to carry out together complex operations to survey and clear the sea mine field .

Naval mines are not just the stuff of old war movies: many nations have stockpiles of these weapons, which remain a major threat to ships since they offer a cheap way for blocking a shipping route or shutting access to harbours and ports. 

As a world leader in mine warfare systems – both manned and unmanned – Thales is developing advanced technologies that support the transition from conventional solutions, such as drones and other new solutions based on unmanned systems.

The idea is to let unmanned vehicles take on more difficult roles in military operations, so that the staff members aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks. Thales is already working on the next  step: “ Explainable and trustable Artificial Intelligence”, which will allow manned and unmanned systems to make fully informed  decision which is a clear prerequisite for military applications.