Driverless Boat Testing To Take Place Off England’s South Coast

BAE Systems will create a driveless system testing service for autonomous boats and planes

Driverless boats and aircraft will be tested by defence giant BAE Systems off the south coast of England. trialling robotic systems for use in search and rescue operations, and within the oil and gas and defence industries. 

The testing will take place around the coasts Portsmouth and Southampton, and on the south east side of the Isle of Wight.

The testing has received founding through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to the sum of £457,000, and will see BAE Systems set up a dedicated autonomous testing service. 

The defence firm will be joined by other organisations, including the University of Southampton, Blue Bear Systems Research and Marine Electronic Systems, who will aid BAE Sytems in providing the infrastructure for the testing service. 

Driverless boat testing 

BAE boat“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,” said Frank Cotton, BAE Systems’ Combat Systems head of technology Frank Cotton

“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.” 

Cotton noted that the driverless testing service is expected to go live later this year, and will enable customers to conduct trials of their own unmanned boats and aircraft in a controlled yet realistic maritime environment. 

BAE Systems has already tested autonomous marine vehicles as part of the Royal Navy’s ‘Unmanned Warrior’ exercises which was the first large scale demonstration of robotic systems in a maritime environment. 

BAE Systems appears keen to put cutting edge technology at the forefront of defence and warfare, having also worked with the University of Birmingham to explore the use of virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, to remotely control battlefield operations

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