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BAE Systems has been showcasing its autonomous boat at London arms expo


Sept. 10, 2019

BAE Systems is one of Britain’s biggest and most well-known defence and aerospace companies.
As well as contributing to the likes of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning program , it also builds boats.
Autonomous boats, to be exact.
The company is in London this week exhibiting at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event at the ExCel centre . It’s using the opportunity to showcase the Pacific 950 Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) capable of operating for up to 10 days without a human on board.
BAE says it can undertake a range of missions like border control, anti-piracy operations or intelligence gathering all without putting a human at risk. It can cover up to 300 nautical miles in ‘pursuit mode’ reaching a speeds of up to 45 knots while being remotely controlled.
While the boat can be pre-programmed to position itself appropriately in relation to a threat, its weapon system always stays under the control of a human.
‘This technology represents a huge step forward in the interaction between human and machine, combining sophisticated autonomous technology with human capabilities to overcome many of the challenges faced in difficult conditions at sea,’ explained Mike Woods, the chief technologist for BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business.
‘The boat keeps sailors out of harm’s way whilst allowing them to respond to the increasingly varied, often unpredictable scenarios they face every day, and aids faster decision making in complex and ambiguous situations.’
BAE Systems says it will be putting more work into the boat over the coming months to prove the tech can be integrated into existing naval ship combat management systems.
In time, it will participate in NATO’s scheduled REPMUS exercise, due to be held in Portugal later this year.
‘For the past four years we have been working in collaboration to develop this ‘first of its kind’ technology,’ Mr Woods said.
‘We are proud to have matured autonomous maritime technology significantly, positioning the UK as a forward thinker in this unique space and providing a crucial advantage where it counts.’
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