BAE Systems is one of the most succesful companies about developing autonomous systems. They produced aerial systems (Taranis unmanned combat aircraft) before and now they are about to continue succes with an Unmanned Boat project.
BAE Systems has successfully completed a series of trials on a ‘first of its kind’ autonomous boat that will allow navies to go beyond the limits of human endurance with unmanned vessels that can travel further, for longer and to more inhospitable environments.
The autonomous Pacific 950 Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) demonstrator has been used to develop and prove innovative technologies which have the potential to make naval missions faster, easier and safer, taking the relationship between human and machine to new territories.
Developed alongside industry experts from L3Harris and MSI Defence Systems, the P950 is equipped with automated navigational decision-making technologies, freeing up operators to focus on mission critical information from afar. To enhance the capability of existing warships, the technology has been designed to be retrofitted to existing RIBs, such as BAE Systems’ Pacific 24, which is currently in service with the Royal Navy across its surface fleet.
The vessel can operate for up to 10 days at ‘patrol speed’ or 300 nautical miles in pursuit mode, reaching speeds of up to 45 knots, whilst either being remote controlled or on a semi-autonomous mission. Trials conducted by BAE Systems have shown how the technology provides a unique ability to undertake complex, multi-phase missions and support advanced dynamic tasking, whilst providing enhanced situational awareness to support faster and more effective decision-making by naval operators.
It has potential applications across a range of missions, including anti-piracy operations, border control, persistent intelligence gathering, maritime security and force protection. The use of autonomous vessels in high-risk areas would allow operations to be conducted without endangering sailors.