From driverless cars, to driverless... boats

While much of the attention in today’s driverless industry is understandably focused on autonomous cars, a new scheme will see several companies work together on the UK’s first maritime autonomous testing service.

The service, which will be based in the Solent – the area between Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight – will be ready for use later this year. Participants will be able to test systems such as unmanned boats, air vehicles and autonomous sensors in a controlled environment.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has awarded a grant to BAE Systems to design and deliver the service, working with a number of organisations including ASV Global, Blue Bear Systems Research, Marine Electronic Systems, SeeByte and the University of Southampton.

“Autonomous and unmanned systems are widely regarded as a vital technology for the future, but there is a great deal of work to be done if we are to unlock its true potential and understand how they are best integrated into wider systems,” said BAE Systems’ Combat Systems Head of Technology Frank Cotton.

“A wide range of organisations from the defence and commercial sectors, along with academia, have ambitions for this technology and this unique service will allow them to find valuable ways to use it whilst furthering its development.”