"Professors Joel Esposito, Matthew Feemster, and
CAPT. Jack Nicholson at the US Naval Academy are developing a team of
autonomous tug boats. The goal is to have the unmanned tugs move a
large disabled ship, possibly through hostile waters, and automatically
dock it with minimal human input. With a supporting grant from
the Office of Naval Research, they are constructing a scale model test
bed. The boats are Vac-U-Tugs supplied by Vac-U-Boat. They are
fitted with microprocessors, cameras and sensors. The system will be
tested in the US Naval Academy's extensive hydrodynamic testing facility.
Other possible applications of the research include: manipulating
large objects to construct offshore bases and drilling platforms, lunar
base construction, and micro/nano-scale assembly tasks."