The Navy's Newest Spy: A Robot Tuna Named After A Disney Movie

Justin Streight

The Navy is developing a new way to spy on enemy territory, a robot tuna fish. The robot will look and swim like a normal bluefin tuna, giving it the perfect cover while it inspects ships and conducts other dangerous missions.

Jerry Lademan, a marine in charge of the project, told the Pilot that they're essentially trying to reverse-engineer nature.

"This is an attempt to take thousands of years of evolution—what has been perfected since the dawn of time—and try to incorporate that into a mechanical device."

Operation: Silent Nemo is a product of the Navy's Rapid Innovation Cell, which tries to use the latest technology to further the Navy's mission. The tuna weighs about 100 pounds and is five feet long. In the past week, Navy project members have been taking turns controlling the robot with a remote control, but it can be programmed to swim on its own. And the spy lives up to its name, swimming almost silently through the water, which gives the tuna some major advantages.

Normal unmanned submersibles are shaped like a torpedo and use propellers to move through the water. These designs make the devices easier to pick up on radar. The natural swimming motion of a fish is far more difficult to detect, in addition to being inconspicuous to the human eye.

Some of the service men were amazed at how realistic the new robot spy appeared, as explained by Lademan.

"The first time I saw it, I thought it was a living fish. It looks alive. It's crazy."

The Pilot reports that the Navy hopes to one day have a fleet of robot fish, waiting to do the deadly, grungy jobs that are too risky for humans. Before robot tunas, the Navy was left with employing actual sea animals for dangerous missions.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Navy dolphins have long been trained to find dangerous objects in the water, especially items like mines and other ordnances. One such dolphin managed to find a rare unused torpedo off the coast of California.

Thanks to the robot tuna, dolphins lives may also no longer be at risk.

[Image Credit: Danilo Cedrone/Wikimedia Commons]