The British Royal Navy’s new autonomy and lethality accelerator ‘NavyX’ is testing drones that can be used to locate and save sailors from drowning.

NavyX aims to accelerate the fielding of new technologies and supports this by rapidly developing, testing and trialling advanced equipment and emerging technologies.

The remotely piloted systems have been tested extensively by the British Royal Navy’s technical experts on Horsea Island and at sea.

These drones can locate personnel in the water, drop life-saving equipment and hover over the location until rescuers arrive.

Currently, NavyX team members are working out how ‘heavy-lift Minerva drones’ can deliver life-saving equipment when someone falls overboard.

For the past few months, the team has been engaged in testing the drone both at the British Navy’s Diving School at Horsea Island in Portsmouth and recently on a civilian boat.

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The effort has been carried out in partnership with industry partners Malloy Aeronautics and Planck Aerosystem with support from the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).

During trials, a Minerva T-150 drone from Malloy located a dummy in the water at Horsea Island.

The drone deployed a test package, which in the future is expected to contain a life raft and hover over the dummy ‘to signpost their location’.

Last year, the drone was extensively tested with Royal Marines in Norway and Cyprus. It could also deliver a life buoy and other survival equipment.

Furthermore, the drone is programmed to land on a mat attached to the boat’s deck by itself.

Once the drone takes off, it would use its on-board systems to identify and track where it needs to land.