The military is buying electric robots for jet skis

Water motorcycles look great in spy movies, but for actual military use they have some major drawbacks. They are noisy gas guzzlers and inconvenient aboard a warship that must find a safe and secure place to store fuel. The future of jet skis for elite SEAL teams looks and sounds different. On Thursday, the Defense Innovation Division and electric jet ski maker T3MP3ST said Defense alone that they made a deal to help the military experiment with electric jet skis that can be converted into autonomous drones.

T3MP3ST Maverick GT skis is the brainchild of Nick Sell, co-founder of the encrypted messaging app Wickr. An avid surfer and sports enthusiast, Sell started her new venture in part by building a jet ski that she could feel good about.

“A typical jet ski or snowmobile produces 200 times more emissions than a single car,” she said.

Her electric personal watercraft also solves several problems that have generally discouraged the marine use of personal watercraft.

“If there is gas, then there is security. And you have mechanics. So we can get rid of all that logistical base,” she said Thursday at the Pentagon, where she participated in an exhibition of new energy solutions adopted by the Department of Defense.

The Maverick can also be equipped with different sets of sensors such as sonar, radar, cameras or the leader over GPS waypoints to enable autonomous operation.

Douglas French, program manager for the Defense Innovation Division, which is helping the military acquire an undisclosed number of personal watercraft, said, “We work under the umbrella of electric search and rescue.”

But electric surface vessels could be useful for resupply and other roles, French said. “When we get into contentious logistics, for example, the concept is, the less fuel we can burn, the better.”

The US military is investigating electrification of many types of vehicles. French said such machines promise to simplify not only fuel logistics, but also reduce maintenance costs and downtime associated with internal combustion engines. Electric vehicles are mechanically simpler, require no extra lubrication and are theoretically more reliable, he said.

“That’s one of the things we hope to find out … promptly.”

The maintenance, fuel efficiency and integration tests due to begin this winter in California will hopefully set the stage for future autonomy tests, French said.

“Nico and her team have already developed several use cases, and we are exploring several more. So hopefully we can … expand the testing and just do more experiments and really figure out what the capabilities are and how broad we are.” The military is buying electric robots for jet skis

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