Apparently, piracy (real piracy, not the BitTorrented variety) is all the rage off the coast of Somalia. The pirates, who probably don't have peglegs or parrots but I picture them that way anyways, hijack ships and hold them and their equipment for ransom, sometimes killing crewmembers in the process. It isn't pretty. But the US Navy and Coast Guard have a trick up their sleeves: robotic boats.

Yep, the 30-foot-long Protector, which is autonomous and comes mounted with a big ol' machine gun, could help wage war on the scourge of the high seas. Rather than going up and spraying a pirate ship with bullets, as you might imagine, it would take a more responsible route. As pirates love to put out fake distress calls and then ambush any responding ships, the robo-boats could give warning to the responding boats, keeping them out of harms way.

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There's no word on if or when the US military will acquire these robot boats, but I'm sure they see the benefit of a robot vs. pirate engagement as much as we do. [Popular Mechanics]