Looks like sooner or later we are going to see unmanned surface vessels transiting the oceans. Both MarineLog and MarineLink report on a Chinese Study. The odd thing about these reports is that apparently, among other things, they were applying this technology to SAR. This from MarineLog:
The Unmanned Multifunctional Maritime Ships Research and Development Project, says MSA, realizes all-day networked sea supervision, intelligent search and rescue, motorized multipoint coverage by shore-vessel based detection and control platform managing unmanned search and rescue vessels on a low-cost basis, which effectively improved the ability and efficiency in maritime search and rescue.
(MarineLink apparently working from the same press release consistently substitutes the phrase “maritime cruise and rescue.”)
Frankly I have a hard time visualizing what unmanned surface vessels could do for search and rescue.