24 Jul 2020
Insights

tpgroup has carried out sea trials for our autonomous navigation system on an unmanned vessel.

This week, tpgroup has carried out sea trials for our autonomous navigation system on an unmanned vessel. This is part of a development programme with the Ministry of Defence announced in late 2018, led by tpgroup with support from Thales and other contributors. 

These trials have allowed the project team to manoeuvre an unmanned craft to target points in both shallow river mouth waters and deeper open sea situations. The navigation was fully autonomous and was carried out in a digital “world” that combined static chart data with real-time information from sensors on board the vessel. The tasks included navigation to a number of locations, including some out of line-of-sight, whilst optimising the routes against a range of user-controlled parameters such as speed, fuel efficiency and risk of collision or detection involving other free-moving boats in the vicinity that were not part of the trial.

The trial will contribute towards reducing mission risk for human operators by removing them from hazardous locations, and so it was entirely appropriate that it was carried out under extensive safety and additional COVID-19 precautions.

Autonomy within the maritime space is part of tpgroup’s wider technology & innovation investment programme that will build this capability for land, air and sub-sea uses, including the potential for multiple unmanned platforms operating together for combined effect.

Autonomy offers a number of benefits, particularly in challenging or hazardous environments such as marine research, oil and gas and defence.  Autonomous systems reduce or even eliminate the need for manpower to operate the ship, and with advanced decision support built-in it can accelerate response times and minimise the risk of human error.

This event is the first in our extensive programme and we’ll continue to keep you updated on the latest developments on the sea trials and across our other digital solutions. 

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