The Pentagon is stepping up its investment in an autonomous Navy. That’s good news for a handful of contractors not typically associated with shipbuilding, and a potential warning shot at the companies responsible for building the current fleet.

The U.S. Navy fiscal 2020 budget request includes $447 million for two large unmanned surface vessels, with plans to continue to buy two per year through at least fiscal 2024. That’s a small drop in the overall budget, with the Navy requesting $34.7 billion for shipbuilding, but significant progress toward the long-term goal of building a robot Navy.

Inspired by the increasingly sophisticated threat posed by China and Russia, and by a need to expand without breaking the budget, the Navy has been pushing to expand its autonomous capabilities. The

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