Royal Navy keen to install artificial intelligence in its fleet of ‘smart ships’

HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will have the AI systems installed
HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will have the AI systems installed
HMS Queen Elizabeth (top) and USS George HW Bush

WATCH: How HMS Queen Elizabeth measures up to USS George HW Bush

  • ‘Terminator-style’ software will help sailors identify threats in a war zone
  • System has been designed and successfully trialled by a Hampshire computer firm
  • Navy’s research site in Portsdown Hill is now looking into implementing the system in its fleet
8
Have your say

ARTIFICIAL intelligence is set to make the Royal Navy’s fleet of warships deadlier than ever.

The Senior Service has revealed its ambition to install cutting-edge AI systems in its latest breed of warships.

The clever part comes in the way these potential threats are detected and the way our software redistributes resources to decide if they are real – all in the blink of an eye.

Mike Hook, Roke Manor Research

The new software, called Startle, is being supplied by Hampshire computing firm Roke Manor Research and will help the navy detect and destroy threats.

The hi-tech kit works through a combination of different algorithms and intelligence features, designed to mimic the human brain’s natural fear response.

It can scan complex environments and learn to detect threats more easily, based on those it has previously encountered.

If put into use in combat situations, Startle would be integrated into existing sensors. Its ultra-fast processing speed would help sailors make crucial decisions faster.

And after two successful tests proved Startle could analyse complex data, the navy’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, on Portsdown Hill, has backed a third phase of the £1m project.

Mike Hook, lead software architect on Startle, said: ‘This is an exciting project for us. Traditional methods of processing data can be inefficient so we have looked at the human brain’s tried and tested means of detecting and assessing threats to help us design a better way to do it.

‘The clever part comes in the way these potential threats are detected and the way our software redistributes resources to decide if they are real – all in the blink of an eye.’

A source at navy HQ, on Whale Island, said: ‘The Royal Navy is interested in researching the ways in which artificial intelligence can complement our skilled personnel.

‘We are keen to work with internal and external partners to understand how it can support the navy’s vision for the future.’