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US Navy turns to 'Jaws' for drone inspiration

The United States Navy tests out an unmanned, underwater drone called the GhostSwimmer. It prowls through the water just like a massive shark.

The United States Navy is testing a shiny new drone. But instead of taking to the sky, this one looks like it's ready to star in a new "Jaws" movie.

The drone, called the GhostSwimmer, is 5 feet long and weighs nearly 100 pounds. It was designed to both look and move through the water like a large fish. Its size more closely resembles a tuna than a shark, the Navy admitted, but the dorsal and pectoral fins attached to the GhostSwimmer give it that distinctive shark look.

Just like its aquatic brethren, GhostSwimmer swims by moving its tail back and forth, and can navigate through the water at depths ranging from 10 inches to 300 feet. GhostSwimmer is designed to operate independently for extended periods of time but can also be controlled via laptop, provided the laptop is within 500 feet of the drone.

GhostSwimmer was developed as part of the Navy's Silent NEMO project, which the Navy defines as "an experiment that explores the possible uses for biomimetic, unmanned underwater vehicles in the fleet." Silent NEMO is a project of the Navy's chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) program, which provides junior leaders with an opportunity to leverage emerging technologies to address some of the Navy's most pressing challenges.

The Navy completed a successful design test of GhostSwimmer last week, bringing it ever closer to real-world use. The Navy plans to use GhostSwimmer for a variety of purposes, including aiding in low visibility intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as hull inspections of friendly ships. Most notably, the GhostSwimmer drone could provide a safer alternative to the Navy's current practice of using dolphins and sea lions to recover equipment and spot undercover mines, according to Wired.

Sadly, starring in a "Jaws" remake isn't on the list of things the Navy is trying to accomplish with GhostSwimmer. At least not yet, anyway.

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The next time you go surfing, you won't really know whether that shark you see is real or a Navy drone. MC3 Edward Guttierrez III, U.S. Navy