Unmanned boats in formation in waters off Zhuhai. Photo: People's Daily
Unmanned boats in formation in waters off Zhuhai. Photo: People's Daily

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is testing prototypes of unmanned, miniaturized assault boats which resemble the fins of sharks cutting through the water in the blockbuster US movie Shark Swarm, according to a recent report.

A Guangdong-based tech company has been working in collaboration with the PLA to test the prototypes, according to the People’s Daily.

The unmanned drone-like vessels are being tested in formations by manufacturer Yunzhou Tech to mock military missions in the sea near the Guangdong city of Zhuhai.

The United States and other western powers are also developing unmanned vehicles including “ant swarms” for ground operations, “drone swarms” in the air and “shark swarms” in the sea for reconnaissance, escorting, assault operations etc.

“Once equipped with weapons, unmanned small combat vessels can attack the enemy in large numbers, similar to drones,” said Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert.

Leveraging artificial intelligence technology, a mother ship will control each individual vessel in combat and the boats can communicate with each other to avoid collisions, according to the newspaper.

China has recently held several drone shows across the country where large numbers of drones fly together to form legions and display signs, all controlled from a portable control console.

Applying the same communications, formations and navigation technologies to the army of unmanned boats could be significant in naval warfare, particularly in the South China Sea, said the People’s Daily report.

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