The latest observation of how China aims to use artificial intelligence to conquer the Pacific is the launching of the world's first autonomous drone carrier.
According to the South China Morning Post, the intelligent, unmanned 88-meter drone carrier named Zhu Hai Yun will bring revolutionary changes to ocean surveillance, deploying a swarm of aerial, sea, and or submersible drones.
The Zhu Hai Yun is powered by an artificial intelligence system called the Intelligent Mobile Ocean Stereo Observing System (IMOSOS). The vessel can navigate autonomously in open water and or be controlled remotely while releasing various types of drones.
"The intelligent, unmanned ship is a beautiful, new 'marine species' that will bring revolutionary changes for ocean observation," Chen Dake, director of the laboratory responsible for the ship, was quoted as saying by the Science and Technology Daily in 2021 when the shipbuilding began.
The ship was built by Guangzhou of the Huangpu Wenchong Shipyard, a subsidiary of China's top shipbuilding company, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation. Sea trials will happen in the second half of the year.
China has launched its first "drone mother ship Zhu Hai yun" capable of carrying more than 50 drones 😎 pic.twitter.com/xt0FZmAiSb— 彩云香江 (@louischeung_hk) May 19, 2022
Aside from these civilian uses, the drone carrier could be used for military operations.
Suppose the autonomous drone carrier is transferred to the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). In that case, it could be used as a surveillance craft to patrol the country's militarized islands in the South China Sea.
China's primary strategy is to defeat the US by expanding its artificial intelligence military capabilities. So this could be the beginning of the world's second-largest superpower building out a fleet of intelligent drone carriers to patrol highly contested waters.
Meanwhile, the US Navy has piloted drone ships in the Pacific, though only equipped for anti-submarine warfare.