Working with the Royal Navy, industry partners and the we Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl) has conducted research to improve capabilities for detecting, tracking, classifying and neutralizing surface and subsurface threats to high-value assets and critical infrastructure, using autonomous systems alongside traditional systems.
dstl worked in collaboration with an industry consortium including QinetiQ, SeeByte, L3 Harris ASV and Thales, to develop a proof of concept based on open architectures and autonomous systems. This demonstrator was tested in a synthetic environment to ensure the viability of the concept before experimentation during a 2-week trial in Portland Harbor in October 2021 using dstland the MAST-13 Maritime Autonomy Surface Test Bed Vessel.
Different levels of autonomy were assessed, allowing for a better assessment of the role that autonomous maritime systems can play in protecting vulnerable assets while deepening the understanding of current technology maturity.
The trial successfully demonstrated end-to-end autonomy with the remote operation of a long-range acoustic device and the triggering of a vessel arresting system for the purpose of stopping a suspicious craft.
Future trials will seek to stress the system in an effort to assess robustness while performing interoperability testing with the we that have been impacted by COVID-19.
dstl Program Manager Alasdair Gilchrist MBE commented:
Research has shown the benefit of integrating multiple sensors, both fixed and on unmanned vessels (UXV), in a common tactical picture to facilitate command decisions.
We have advanced maritime artificial intelligence/machine learning by developing applications that enable multiple UXV be operated and monitored by a single operator to protect assets.
We have also developed algorithms to autonomously control and launch non-lethal effectors from unmanned surface vessels (USV) to deter aggressors and protect our valuable maritime assets.