Navies want to use unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). They will keep boatcrews out of high-risk environments and extend the outreach of surface vessels. There are already 40 prototype USVs on the market globally, ranging from one to ten tonnes in weight. But most R&D in this area is focussed on the USV itself.
Until now, there were no proven systems for launch and, more importantly, recovery of the USV from a mother ship. That limits the use of USVs, which can only become a regular part of the ship's armament once the issue of safe retrieval is solved.
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