Thales UK has opened its new Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials and Evaluation Centre at Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth.

The new facility will help expand Thales’s footprint in autonomous systems and is intended to bolster the UK’s industry market position.

The maritime autonomy centre will add to the long history of Turnchapel Wharf with the UK Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and the industry.

Over the next ten years, the new centre is expected to transform the way autonomous capability is developed by allowing for rapid exploration and exploitation of evolving and disruptive technologies.

The £1m facility has been designed to provide access to trials areas for the development of latest and advanced maritime autonomous capabilities for use by the Royal Navy.

The waterfront site will also play an integral part to support the Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) joint programme between the UK Navy and the French Navy for the development of next-generation autonomous mine hunting systems.

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“Our ambition is to help anchor a vibrant ecosystem in Plymouth for the development of advanced autonomous systems.”

Thales UK chief executive Victor Chavez said: “The unique waterfront location at Turnchapel Wharf will provide access to shallow and deep water trials areas for the development of cutting-edge maritime solutions.

“Our ambition is to help anchor a vibrant ecosystem in Plymouth for the development of advanced autonomous systems and we are already working with a range of academic and industry partners to make this a reality.”

Thales has invested in the facility with a minimum commitment of five years to develop autonomous systems at the Plymouth site.

The opening of Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials and Evaluation Centre will help generate 20 new high-skilled job opportunities in the region, while allowing local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), partners and suppliers to take part in different initiatives at the facility.

With the MMCM programme having entered its integration and validation phase, Thales’s new centre will support delivery of the very first unmanned mine warfare system for Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), as well as both the Royal Navy and French Navy.