BAE Systems has concluded initial tests on an unmanned boat technology that reportedly has the potential to revolutionize naval missions. The company has stated that the ‘first of its kind’ autonomous vessel will be able to travel ‘further, for longer and to more inhospitable environments’. It stated that completion of trials of the company’s unmanned Pacific 950 (P950) It is a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) demonstrator has improved the readiness of the technology.
Besides that it will focus on testing the capability of the technology to allow for integration with existing naval combat management systems.
BAE System Pacific 950
BAE Systems developed the demonstrator in collaboration with industry experts from L3Harris and MSI Defence Systems. The British Royal Navy has been experimenting for the last few years with integrating more and more autonomous vehicles. And these testing are there to make the fleets and mission planning, both as solo operators and as part of co-ordinate missions.
The presence of automated navigational decision-making technologies in the unmanned boat will allow operators to focus their efforts on mission-critical information. On the other hand, the autonomous technology can be retrofitted to existing RIBs.
According to the company, the P950 is designed to operate for up to ten days at ‘patrol speed’ or 300nm in pursuit mode at a maximum speed of up to 45k. The boat can achieve this in remote-controlled or semi-autonomous mission.
It include up to 10 days’ worth of patrol-speed autonomy between refueling stops, or up to 300 nautical miles (556 km) at the boat’s pursuit speed of 45 knots. The chief technologist Mike Woods said: “This technology represents a huge step forward in the interaction between human and machine.” Besides that it combines the sophisticated autonomous technology with human capabilities to overcome many of the challenges faced in difficult conditions at sea.