SAN DIEGO: Some dolphins used by the Navy to track down mines will soon lose their jobs to robots — but they’ll be reassigned, not retired. Starting in 2017, 24 of the Navy’s 80 military-trained dolphins will be replaced by a 12-foot (3.6-meter) unmanned torpedo-shaped vehicle, according to the newspaper UT San Diego.
The military said the machines can do some of the same mine-hunting duties as the sea creatures. And they can be manufactured quickly, unlike the seven years it takes to train a dolphin.
But the dolphins won’t be relieved of duty. They’ll be used along with sea lions for port security and retrieving objects from the sea floor, the newspaper reported. The Navy’s $28 million marine-mammal program dates back to the late 1950s and once included killer whales and sharks.