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Royal Navy readies autonomous technology push

A competition ran by new accelerator NavyX will seek to find mature ideas around the approach to improve operations and increase efficiency in maritime operations

The Royal Navy is partnering with the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) under its new autonomy innovation accelerator NavyX to find mature applications of autonomous systems.

NavyX is gearing up to launch the NavyX Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) competition, which will seek proposals to boost efficiency of maritime operations or improve operational capability. The exact launch date is to be announced, as well as the total funding for the project.

Examples of specific technologies that will be targeted include those that can autonomously move valuable loads, from ship to ship, ship to shore and shore to ship, with minimal operator input. The idea is to be able to deploy and prove the technologies in a real environment quickly.

NavyX will be making use of DASA’s existing outreach team and competition mechanisms. The Navy accelerator will provide the user testing and trialling facilities to develop the projects selected in the competition.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are examples of technologies with the capacity to improve the design of autonomous military systems and deliver significant qualitative improvements to a broad range of military applications.

“Machine learning techniques are especially well-suited for data-rich applications where explicit system modelling is difficult,” said Martin Hagström, deputy research director at the Swedish Defence Research Agency and a specialist in autonomous systems, aeronautics and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

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