The US Navy has been forced to unleash a crack force of trained dolphins and sea lions to recapture several underwater robots which went rogue off the coast of Virginia earlier this week.
A naval news release said that four REMUS 100 "Swordfish" unmanned underwater vehicles had ceased responding to commands during the joint US/Canadian Exercise FRONTIER SENTINEL, currently underway off the north-east American coast.
Reportedly the four rogue robots were part of a flotilla of 13 being operated by the US Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1 in the Thimble Shoals Channel off Hampton Roads. Efforts immediately began to recover the AWOL droids: in addition to the usual boats and aircraft, US Naval "marine mammal systems" joined the hunt.
Marine mammal systems is the US Navy term for teams of trained dolphins or sea lions used to carry out underwater tasks.
The Navy requested that anyone finding one of the torpedo-like droids should call the commander of the US Second Fleet urgently, and under no circumstances approach the machine. ®
Not to spoil a good Rise-of-the-Machines story or anything, but the REMUS 100 is a relatively unimpressive machine just 7.5" in diameter. It is never armed, though can be used as it was being here for naval mine-countermeasures search and classification work. (Any mines found would then usually be disposed of by EOD divers, in the US Navy.)