BAE Systems launches UK testing service for autonomous boats and air vehicles
BAE Systems has been awarded £457,000 to launch the UK's first maritime autonomous systems testing service.
The UK's southern coast will be used as a test area for autonomous ships and planes. Together with ASV Global (ASV), Blue Bear Systems Research, Marine Electronic Systems (MES), SeeByte and the University of Southampton, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has granted funding worth £457,000 to design and deploy the test area. The Solent LEP and partner organisations are investing a total of £1.5 million in the project, the first of its kind in the UK.
From later this year, customers will be able to conduct trials and test systems such as unmanned boats, air vehicles and autonomous sensors in a safe, controlled and realistic environment in the Solent. The service will make use of a secure maritime communications network and a mobile command and control centre, featuring the same technology BAE Systems provides to UK Royal Navy platforms.
Frank Cotton, BAE Systems’ Combat Systems Head of Technology, said: “Autonomous and unmanned systems are widely regarded as a vital technology for the future, but there is a great deal of work to be done if we are to unlock its true potential and understand how they are best integrated into wider systems. A wide range of organisations from the defence and commercial sectors, along with academia, have ambitions for this technology and this unique service will allow them to find valuable ways to use it whilst furthering its development.”