Royal Navy tests unmanned equipment in operational setting

9 March 2020 (Last Updated March 11th, 2020 11:05)

The British Royal Navy has tested a set of unmanned equipment in an operational environment for the first time in Norway.

Royal Navy tests unmanned equipment in operational setting
Royal Navy tests unmanned equipment in operational setting for first time. Credit: Royal Navy.

The British Royal Navy has tested a set of unmanned equipment in an operational environment for the first time in Norway.

The four-day Exercise Autonomous Advance Force saw the equipment undergo trials in harsh arctic conditions.

Vehicles tested include unmanned boat Mast 13, heavy-lift drone from Malloy, remotely-piloted air system Puma and the Remus unmanned sub-surface drone.

The four-day exercise was conducted with support from Royal Marines small boat specialists 47 Commando, HMS Albion, the Royal Navy’s autonomous accelerator NavyX, and the office for the Chief Technology Officer.

Plymouth-based 47 Commando commanding officer colonel Chris Haw said: “We wanted to operationalise the technology, both in an operational environment and as part of a Nato deployment.

“This exercise also enabled us to also integrate technology as far as possible into a Royal Navy warship.

“Integration of autonomy equipment is a key strand in the development of Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike concept. The future vision is of this type of system being used to control multiple assets in different domains.

“This technology has the potential to be revolutionary within the naval service.”

During testing, HMS Albion was fitted with an artificial intelligence system to control the unmanned vehicles.

Autonomous Advance Force trials commenced in Cornwall in 2019.

Last year, British Royal Marines used autonomous vehicles as part of Exercise Commando Warrior.

Haw added: “This series of trials has been ground-breaking. It is at the leading edge of technology and integrating multiple systems in the uniquely challenging physical environment that Norway presents, is a significant step forward.

“In November, after the second in the series of the trials, we were challenged to make this work in Norway in an operational environment and, in a relatively short amount of time we have made that happen.

“The speed with which we have managed to develop this system in conjunction with industry partners and the multiple stakeholders involved has been impressive.”