Michigan Technological University is opening a location where researchers can try out new technologies that would enable greater use of unmanned research and survey vessels.
The Maritime Autonomy Research Site is on Lake Superior's Portage Canal in the Upper Peninsula city of Houghton. Officials say it will be the first freshwater testing spot of its kind in the world.
A launch ceremony is scheduled for Friday, along with an announcement of a new organization called the Smart Ships Coalition.
The Michigan-based coalition will include scientists, policymakers, navigators and others interested in developing ways for research boats to operate without people on board.
They would perform tasks such as surveying lake bottoms and scientific activities that would be expensive, difficult or even dangerous for humans to do.