When it comes to machines taking over jobs from humans, we are not always supporters. But the fact that many of the 24 dolphins currently involved in mine detection for the Navy will now be replaced by sea-drones strikes us as good news. And think about how psyched the dolphins must be. After lifetimes of hard work, it’s now time for them to finally enjoy some well-deserved time just being dolphins.
The Navy has originally said it planned to phase out all the dolphins, but it has changed its tune on that. It is merely scaling back, as there are certain things dolphins are just better at than the robots (known as UUVs — unmanned underwater vehicles). Like being adorable. And also, navigating shallow water. And while the technology on UUVs is improving, it does not yet match the dolphin’s naturally occurring, amazing sonar.
The Navy has been using dolphins for detecting mines and other water-based threats to national security (like enemies swimming around with bombs and stuff) since 1960. Dolphins were used during the Vietnam War, in the Persian Gulf, and in the Iraq War, where they may or may not have (we kind of think may HAVE) patrolled the Strait of Hormuz. Human rights groups weren’t psyched about this, but they decided to be chill until the war was over and now that it is (uh … hooray?), the Navy is indeed letting a lot of these dolphins retire. Except the ones they’re not.
- Navy to cut back use of mine-detecting dolphins, North County Times (San Diego)
Get Grist in your inbox