Magazine article The Futurist

Automated Warships

Magazine article The Futurist

Automated Warships

Article excerpt

The next generation of U.S. warships is being designed to function in battle even after sustaining damage from missile attacks, according to engineers at Purdue University.

"Our goal is to build a ship that does not need any maintenance while at sea," says Scott Sudhoff, associate professor at Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A key feature of the new vessels will be an automated system for rerouting power around parts of a ship that have been damaged in battle.

On a conventional U.S. warship, the power source is located directly in line with the ship's propellers, and the engines must be throttled up and down for the vessel to operate at different speeds. In the new design scheme, the ship's power source (such as a diesel or gas turbine engine) drives a large electrical generator that supplies power to the motors turning the propellors. The power source can be placed anywhere on the ship. In addition, the generator can run at a constant speed, saving fuel. …

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