China launched a crewless ship capable of carrying dozens of drones.
The ship, named Zhu Hai Yun, uses an artificial intelligence system to navigate autonomously.
Beijing has touted it as a maritime research tool, but experts suggest it has potential as a military vessel.
China has launched the world’s first crewless drone carrier that uses artificial intelligence to navigate autonomously in open water. Beijing has officially described it as a maritime research tool, but some experts have said the ship has the potential to be used as a military vessel. The autonomous ship, the Zhu Hai Yun (pictured here) is around 290 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 20 feet deep and can carry dozens of air, sea, and submersible drones equipped with different observation instruments, according to the shipbuilder, CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipping Co. It describes the vessel as “epoch making” and the “world’s first intelligent unmanned system mother ship.” “The most immediate benefit to China is likely data collection,” Matthew Funaiole, senior fellow of China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider. “From a purely science standpoint, which is the angle China is promoting, we could see Chinese drones (both surface and subsurface, and launched from the Zhu Hai Yun) contributing to disaster mitigation, environmental monitoring, etc.” However, the drone mothership could also be used by China’s military to gather intelligence in the contested South China Sea, which several countries have made competing territorial claims over.