Autonomous vessels, robotic systems for unmanned endurance blue water persistent duties




PATENT PENDING - Two (port and starboard) batteries of Ship to Air missiles may be mounted fore and aft on Scorpion or Dragonfly HKs to provide a formidable defensive array of up to 32 missiles. When linked with Cruise missiles for attacking aircraft carriers, destroyers and the like, while also fending off attacks from hostile fighter planes (or drones) a small ship suddenly takes on the mantle of a much bigger naval craft - and being unmanned, presents a formidable (fearless) adversary, to any Navy that is still fielding crewed ships.


In the past ASVs or radio controlled drone craft were used by the navies of the world for target practice. It could be argued that the proposed role reversal, is far more sensible, in that warships that are manned today present unacceptable risks for any department of defense that cares about human lives, to keep on presenting them as potential target practice for the inevitable drone battleships that are due to hit the high seas within the next 5-10 years.





A military version of the Bluefish zero carbon cruiser (ZCC) is to have twin batteries of small SAM type rockets @ 1/20th scale, carried in fore (and/or) mounted swivel turrets - useful for tracking multiple targets. These turrets may rotate vertically to be able to launch a SAM in the general direction of a located enemy, such that seek time is reduced before a SAM's guidance system cuts in with a deadly response. For the development model we will be using cameras and lasers for targetting.




A Scorpion HK - fitted with 4 x SAM turrets (one per corner), each carrying 8 missiles (Rapier example), giving a battery of 32 rockets to fend off enemy aircraft. The micro battleship is also shown here with 4 Tomahawk cruise missiles in protected bays, and 4 x 21" torpedoes (that are not visible) - all drawn to scale - as a prelude to proof of concept. This original concept vessel is design copyright © BMS Ltd 2014. The technology is also patent applied for.


Being an unmanned drone, there is no need for crew quarters, provisions or other life support. In the event of a pirate ship coming too close, powerful warnings will be given, which if not heeded, will end in the vessel being sunk with a SAM. The term SAM is used, even where a missile is fired from the battleship toward another ship on the ocean surface = SSM. It might be an expensive exercise, but pirates will soon learn not to too try it on with a Scorpion HK, or develop Robo-phobia. RoboShips are about to come of age. Click on the CAD drawings below to see how to make a SAM turret for war gaming. Lock on!




Finally, the battleship also carries a submersible ROV that may be deployed from the mothership remotely, with other sensors to locate and clear mines. In tandem with military surveillance duties, the ship can sample and map the oceans all at the same time. That could save any navy a pretty penny - not to mention - that this vehicle is powered by energy from nature. So, no nuclear waste and no diesel smog.



Larger rockets at 1/20th will be incorporated as cruise missiles. These will be mounted under the solar decks and launched horizontally. Seek time is not so important where such missiles are guided to their warship targets some miles off, though could be used to destroy enemy submarines, if out of torpedo range.


The same model will carry 1/20th scale MK48 torpedoes, to be able to demonstrate firing and buoyancy compensation, using the active hull.


Normally, a ship that carries SAMs is considerably bigger than a Scorpion HK. Because there is no crew, there is no need for bunks, kitchens, entertainment, food, laundry, waste systems, etc. This reduced the mass of the vessel to all that is needed for a higher performance military vessel, just like the aerial drones that are used so effectively today. Of course, the only way to see just how effective such a naval drone might be, is to run simulations first of all, followed by real life trials. BMS can carry out the small scale trials and full scale trials of the base platform, but would need a military contractor as a partner (or end user) when testing weapons at full size.



1/5th and 1/10th SCALE MODEL UPSCALE


Models to 1/10th scale (5 meters or 16 feet) and 1/5th scale ( 10 meters or 32 feet) could be produced that would be useful oceanographic tools, and/or naval weapons. At the moment there is no funding available to us for such research.







Apart from the fact that once launched there are no fuel costs, the unique hull design provides a degree of flexibility that is unparallel in naval military history for such a compact craft - and here is why:









A fleet of Scorpion HKs (SHK) work together via a program that may be developed as a new tool for your Navy's anti-submarine and naval surface combat missions. Each SHK tracks its partner craft and can safely navigate among commercial shipping traffic as the convoy patrols sensitive choke points against an enemy fleet that is bound to have some tricks their sleeve.


The SeaNet gathers information of the opposition's movements for tactical analysis of the evasion techniques used by the enemy during peacetime and hostilities, and of course in storing data of successful naval engagements.




The combination of solar and wind energy harvesting can provide sufficient energy to power the vessel at around 7-10 knots continuously, with a sprint speed of around 20 knots. That is not sufficient speed to run down a nuclear submarine with one craft, but a network of Scorpions in Seawolf formation might easily ensnare a submerged vessel. As each enemy submarine is taken out of the equation, the Seawolf pack might concentrate resources to locate and target the next submarine, etc. It's an adult game of Battleships with computers deciding the moves and robot ships carrying out the orders - under the supervision of human moderators.




The basic hull and energy harvesting apparatus can be brought in well under $5m. See estimates below. To the platform cost must be added the weapons systems, which is where a naval combat ship can start to become expensive assets. Even at double this price, a Scorpion HK would still be a military bargain.




Launch of cruise missiles from a naval combat drone may be by using rocket launches as per the above example..






Missiles x 24 . 600
Materials . 150
Paints . 15
Servos x 8 . 240
RC firing & control . 300
Sensors . 300
Fastenings . 40
Labour: fabrication 6 weeks 2,400
Premises 2 months 1,200
Insurances .  1,000
. . .
Project build Sub Total £   6,245
. . .
Contingency @ 35% £   2,185
. . .
Total £   8,430
. . .






A naval version of the Rapier SAM system may provide the all round capabilities that BMS are looking for in a comprehensive Scorpion HK weapons system. It is important to be able to neutralize attacks from manned fighter aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and airborne drones. The Rapier system is only short range, so not particularly suited to pre-emptive naval engagements. We were though inspired by the design of this turret launcher.










Alvin DSV - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Deepsea Challenger - Mariana Trench, James Cameron 2012

HMS Astute 1st of Class

HMS Vanguard- Trident

INS Sindhurakshak - explosion & sinking

Littoral combat vessels

Lusitania - Torpedo attack

Nuclear submarines lost at sea

Predator - Covert submarine hunter/killer

Seawolf - Autonomous wolf pack deployment of Predator mini-subs

Torpedoes - UUV anti submarine weapons

Trieste - World record depth - Mariana Trench 1960

U20 - Kapitan Leutnant Walther Schwieger

USS Alabama

USS Bluefish WWI submarine

USS Bluefish - Nuclear submarine

USS Flying Fish

USS Jimmy Carter - Seawolf class fast attack nuclear submarine

USS Nautilus - 1st nuclear submarine & subsea north pole passage

USS North Dakota - 11th Virginia class submarine 

USS Scorpion - Lost at sea with all hands









Hackers [Navic] and [K.o.D] fitted an Arduino Pro Mini and an array of components into an off the shelf rocketry kit to create a guided model rocket, taking the whole idea of Arduino-based space technology to another level

The Arduino reads signals from internally mounted accelerometers, and adjusts balsa fins (via 4 micro servos) to correct the rocket’s flight path. Due to the nature of model rocketry, the active guidance is limited to just the 3 seconds that the rocket is traveling upwards under power. A valiant effort nevertheless.


With the goal of an active self guidance system, we decided to test it in a model rocket. A simple Estes D-Region Tomahawk rocket kit we picked up from a local hobby store had a 'payload bay' that we could modify to carry the electronics. We went with the E9-6 motor which gave us thrust for 2.9 seconds and a 6 second delay before the ejection charge blew. Due to the fact that the guidance system alters the center of gravity drastically, the 2.8 seconds of active guidance must be at a horizontal attitude much like a missile, which is great for testing purposes.

K.o.D is the mechanical master, so he got to work cutting out the fine fitted holes for the servos. The 4 micro servos wouldn't fit inside the payload bay so we had to offset 2 of them and make adjustments to the fins. The fins themselves were balsa wood, designed, cut and sanded to perfection by K.o.D and later attached to the servos. For the electronics section, an Arduino Pro Mini was used for it's small size and high functionality. A small breadboard power bar was used for the main power bus and a Venom high capacity 9V battery powered the entire system. For sensing, a Memsic2125 2-axis accelerometer was carefully glued into the nose cone by K.o.D and that completed the active guidance package. Navic got to work on the code, carefully processing the input from the accelerometers into servo position outputs to generate an exacting reaction by correcting the flight profile to 'stable' for the entire flight. Since we were working with just under 3 seconds of powered flight at relatively high speed, the processing had to be fast enough to make a difference.

A rocket needs to have it's center of gravity (cg) located above it's center of pressure (cp) along the roll axis to create a straight direction of flight. Weight affects the cg location, and area affects the cp location. The weight of the electronics and the increase in area of the front fins changed the rockets cg and cp from it's initial 'off the shelf kit' locations. When a rocket is 'nose heavy' that means the cg isn't located above the cp, hence the rocket takes off, translates in an arc pattern to nose down and hits the ground pretty fast. We wanted that setup for our rocket, sounds dumb, right? The electronics move fins to control the rockets flight path. If we installed the system and made sure to maintain the original cg and cp points so the flight direction was straight up, vertical, how would you know the system worked? Offsetting the cg and cp so an arcing-flight-path-of-crash-failure was going to happen as long as the rocket launched with only gravity and atmospheric pressure controlling it gave us a method of knowing if the onboard electronics in fact changed the flight path of failure into a steady horizontal flight path to prove the electronic system a success. Unfortunately this is tough with a 2.9 second motor burn. Because the rockets cg and cp were modified in a way to create a natural failure, thrust is extremely important. It takes some time for the rocket to translate from vertical to horizontal, which is where the electronics work to keep a stable horizontal flight. After the motor cuts off, the rocket will not glide because the cg and cp are incorrect. The system can be seen to work, it kept the rocket horizontal rather than arcing over for the 2 seconds or so the motor had left.



An Arduino micro computer that is used to guide the missile  Micro flight control servos in a model rocket


On the left you can see the Arduino mini computer board and on the right, the micro servos that control the balsa wood fins. We agree that 2.9 seconds is not sufficient for control tests. Next time why not use ordinary fireworks type rockets as the propulsion system. They are cheaper and fly longer. Granted, that there may be more fiddling about. We are using off-the-shelf technology like this just to get a feel for firing rockets directionally - and safely - out at sea or on secluded waters. We'll leave the explosives part to the weapons experts.



How the 'guidance' or 'controlled' system works is as follows: Initial accelerometer reading are taken on power (on the pad) and the servos are centered. At launch as explained above, the rocket pitches over to horizontal. The Arduino knows this from the accelerometer data. The Arduino starts moving the appropriate servos to maintain that horizontal flight path. The system does not pitch the rocket over from vertical to horizontal. As you can see from the test video, for a couple seconds the system keeps the rocket horizontal using the fins on the servos to direct airflow and maintain stable translation.

The forces during this flight are pretty low. The balsa wood fins being located inefficiently on the servo horns did not cause them to break off. The servos created enough torque to move the fins with the air resistance encountered. The breadboard connections were not jarred lose at all. This is a low power Estes E9-6 rocket motor pushing a heavier rocket than it was designed for. It doesn't fly fast or high and it doesn't suffer large amounts or stress or strain on the 'low quality' parts or build.

Why use an Arduino and breadboards? Well, first off we like to spend less time making these projects and that's what Arduino and breadboards are made for. The second reason is the fact of re-usability. Once this project was complete, the hackers took all the parts and used them in other projects. That would be difficult if everything was custom made and soldered together.

If anyone is interested in a build like this and wants more info please email: vectrasoft [at] gmail [dot] com.



Sky rocket based SAM missile models to 1/20th scale


This diagram is the basis of our actual test rigs, using skyflash rockets as the motors, modified of course with fins and more.












RC-submarines torpedoes

PT boat contra rotating electric torpedo

Sub Committee

The Guardian June 2003 Terrorism David Fickling

Aardvark DIY cruise missiles
BBC World news asia-pacific DIY cruise missile from New Zealing

Hackaday 2010 diy guided missile err model rocket

Sites google airwavershr guided rocket



Starboard 8 SAMs forward & 8 aft + 2 cruise missiles & 2 torpedoes.

 Carried by a zero carbon fuelled for life platform.

A unmanned robotic Scorpion HK autonomous combat battleship

Port 8 SAMs forward & 8 aft + 2 cruise missiles & 2 torpedoes. 

The reaction time of a robot warrior is milliseconds.


SEANET DRONE - A hammerhead Scorpion HK combat warship - shown here fitted with 4 x SAM turrets (one per quadrant with independent targeting), for 360 degree multiple cover. Each SAM turret carries 8 missiles (Rapier example), giving a battery of 32 rockets to fend off enemy aircraft. This micro battleship is also shown here with 4 Tomahawk cruise missiles in protected bays, fore and aft, and 4 x 21" MK48  torpedoes in the outriggers - all drawn to scale - as a prelude to proof of concept. The torpedoes and cruise missiles would not be visible, but we've shown them in x-ray. The OAL of this clever design is 52.7m or 171 feet. She is designed to cruise all day and night at 7-10 knots using only energy from nature - and sprint up to 25knots (depending on specification) in attack mode. This original concept vessel is design copyright © BMS Ltd 2014.




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 Bluefish autonomous marine warfare robotic cruiser  Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo