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February 26, 2021

UK MOD awards funding to Rolls-Royce for naval autonomy technology

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has granted funding to Rolls-Royce to advance the development of ‘Artificial Chief Engineer’ technology.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has granted funding to Rolls-Royce to advance the development of ‘Artificial Chief Engineer’ technology.

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The funding has been awarded under the UK MOD’s Defence and Security Accelerator Intelligent Ship Phase Two programme.

This programme is aimed at evaluating technologies and approaches to improve the ‘armed forces’ technical advantage’.

Rolls-Royce noted that the 16-month programme strives to investigate the efficiency of human-AI collaboration in improving decision-making and planning within tough operating environments.

Artificial Chief Engineer is an autonomous machinery control system designed to allow naval ships to undertake ‘long endurance missions’ with less human interaction.

Rolls-Royce Defence Naval Electrical Automation and Controls programme executive Ben Thorp said: “This is incredibly good news for our Artificial Chief Engineer capability, which we launched at DSEI in 2019. Our involvement in this funding programme, certainly strengthens our position with the UK MOD for Unmanned Surface Vessel enablers.

“This funding will also increase the technical maturity of Artificial Chief Engineer for further applications across the breadth of the marine market, both naval and commercial where we are seeing increasing levels of demand for this type of technology.”

UK MOD’s Intelligent Ship is a Defence Science and Technology Laboratory project to develop unique technologies and concepts that facilitate intelligent systems use within future platforms.

Last month, Rolls-Royce won a research funding contract with the US Navy to develop digital foreign object debris (FOD) detection technology.

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