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The UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has awarded £3m in funding for its Intelligent Ship competition to improve decision-making, mission planning and automation using artificial intelligence.

The competition, led by DASA on behalf of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl), seeks to develop technologies for naval vessels from 2030 onward.

The £3m funding was split between nine projects from companies including Rolls Royce, Nottingham Trent University, and Decision Lab.

The other funded companies are CGI IT UK, DIEM Analytics, Frazer Nash Consultancy, Montvieux and SeeByte.

Funded proposals include a decision-making support system for engineering crews to manage power and propulsion systems and an ‘innovative mission AI prototype agent for decision-making to support decision-making during pre-mission preparation, mission execution and post-mission analysis.’

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By GlobalData

Dstl project technical authority Julia Tagg said: “The Intelligent Ship project aims to demonstrate ways of bringing together multiple AI applications to make collective decisions, with and without human operator judgement.”

“We hope that the use of AI in the future will lead to timely, more informed and trusted decision-making and planning, within complex operating and data environments. With applications for the Royal Navy and more broadly across defence, we are very excited to see what these Phase 2 projects might bring.”

Phase 2 of the competition is set to develop broader applications for AI across defence.

DASA delivery manager Rachel Solomons said: “DASA is focussed on finding innovation to benefit the defence and security of the UK.

“Artificial intelligence and human-machine teaming are such innovations, and by taking this competition to Phase 2 we hope to help find solutions that could make a real difference to future decision making in defence.”

In January, DASA announced the competitions first wave of funding with nine projects each receiving a share of £1m.

At the time, Defence Minister James Heappey said: “The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology.

“The funding will research pioneering projects into how AI and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work.”