Free DARPA software lets gamers hunt submarines

DARPA crowdsourcing submarine warfare software

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If you have ever wanted to go torpedo-to-torpedo with a submariner, now is your chance. The crowdsource-minded folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency rolled out an online game that lets players try to catch elusive, quiet enemy submarines.

According to DARPA the Sonalysts Combat Simulations Dangerous Waters software was been written to simulate actual evasion techniques used by submarines, challenging each player to track them successfully. "Your tracking vessel is not the only ship at sea, so you'll need to safely navigate among commercial shipping traffic as you attempt to track the submarine, whose driver has some tricks up his sleeve. You will earn points as you complete mission objectives, and will have the opportunity to see how you rank against the competition."

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Gamers will be virtually driving one of DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare  Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessels (ACTUV) - basically sea-going drones DARPA wants to have built to track down real submarines. These so-called X-ships would support a ton of sensors and other sophisticated technology to autonomously ply the ocean looking for underwater enemies.

DARPA says that before autonomous software is developed for ACTUV's computers, it needs to determine what approaches and methods are most effective. To gather information from as many users as possible, ACTUV has been integrated into the free  Dangerous Waters game.

From DARPA: " As you complete each scenario in the simulation you will be asked if you would like to submit data about your game play to our database for analysis. The data collected doesn't contain any information about you or your computer, or anything else outside of what you did with ACTUV and how well it worked. Good or bad, please agree to submit your data for analysis so that we can see what tactics work (or don't work!). And you can always say no- installing and playing the simulation does not collect or send any information until you expressly agree to it at the end of each scenario.  While we have made efforts to leverage existing commercial software and ensure its full operability and security, DARPA makes no warranties about the operability of the software on your particular system and is not responsible for any damages that might occur."

The sub game is just one of a number of crowdsource endeavors DARPA has initiated.  In February for example, DARPA issued a $10,000 challenge to the general public to design a next-generation military fighting vehicle. The Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, sponsored by advanced vehicle manufacturer, Local Motors calls for the general public to "conceptualize a vehicle body design for two different missions-Combat Reconnaissance and Combat Delivery & Evacuation."

 Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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