New unmanned boat to tackle piracy and improve security

A NEW unmanned autonomous boat has been developed that can travel further, longer and to more inhospitable environments.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 6:36 pm
Updated Friday, 26th July 2019, 11:28 am
The autonomous unmanned Pacific 950 Rigid Inflatable Boat. Picture: Hickman www.1blueharbour

BAE Systems has successfully completed a series of trials on an autonomous boat that will allow the navy to go beyond the limits of human endurance with unmanned vessels.

The autonomous Pacific 950 Rigid Inflatable Boat can operate for up to 10 days at speeds of up to 45 knots and cover distances of 300 nautical miles. The vessel has the potential to be used across a range of missions, including anti-piracy operations, border control, intelligence gathering and maritime security. The use of autonomous boats in high-risk areas allows operations to be conducted without endangering sailors.

Mike Woods, Chief Technologist for BAE Systems’, said: ‘This technology represents a huge step forward in the interaction between human and machine, combining sophisticated autonomous technology with human capabilities to overcome many of the challenges faced in difficult conditions at sea. The boat keeps sailors out of harm’s way whilst allowing them to respond to the increasingly varied, often unpredictable scenarios they face every day and aids faster decision making in complex situations.’

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The boat was first introduced on an experimental basis in 2015 and trialled as part of the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise.

Mr Woods added: ‘We are proud to have matured autonomous maritime technology to position the UK as a forward thinker in this unique space and providing a crucial advantage where it counts.’