China also making large low-cost robotic submarine drones

China is developing large, smart and relatively low-cost unmanned submarines according to scientists involved in artificial intelligence (AI) projects. These robotic submarines are expected to be deployed in the early 2020s.

The AI-powered subs are expected to be vastly larger than existing torpedo sized robotic underwater drones.

Torpedos are about 12 feet (4 meters long). The new robotic drones will be 40 feet (13 meters) to 100 feet (32 meters) long. This will be about the size of PT boats or U-boats in WW2.

Lin Yang, marine technology equipment director at the Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences confirmed that China is developing a series of extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles, or XLUUVs.

The institute, in China’s northeast Liaoning province, is a major producer of underwater robots to the Chinese military. Lin developed China’s first autonomous underwater vehicle with operational depth beyond 6km. He is now chief scientist of the 912 Project, a classified programme to develop new-generation military underwater robots by 2021.

The US has Lockheed Martin working on the Orca project to build large unmanned submarine drones.

Boeing has a 51 foot long robotic submarine called the Echo Voyager.