The Royal Navy is holding its first ‘robot wars’, inviting firms at the cutting-edge of science to demonstrate unmanned aircraft, boats and submarines.
The head of the Navy – First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas – has challenged academics, scientists, technology firms, plus British and Allied military forces to show off hi-tech systems which could revolutionise naval warfare.
In October 2016 the most promising of those systems will be put to the test during a fortnight-long war game around Scotland, alongside regular Navy, Army and Air Forces.
The Navy has recently formed its first squadron for pilotless aircraft – 700X at Culdrose in Cornwall which operates ‘eye in the sky’ ScanEagle reconnaissance planes. It is also experimenting with remote-controlled minehunters, and is buying four ‘wave gliders’ – underwater gliders which run for up to four months gathering data about the ocean.
The Fleet’s robotics officer Commander Steve Prest believes these are just the first steps into the world of maritime autonomous systems – to give naval ‘robots’ their correct title.
The systems of companies and organisations which rise to the challenge will be tested in the USA next year, then on a Royal Navy warship in 2016.
Those will be followed by a series of demonstrations, trials and experiments will be carried out at the Joint Warrior exercise in the autumn of the same year.
Press release, Image: UK Navy