Military submarines and boat drones that are able to carry and use weapons are to be developed by the UK.
This is intended to address the issue of maritime security and also boost the defence capabilities that are available for countries.
The areas of technology that are of interest include being able to ensure the navigational accuracy of the drones, as well as ensuring that all communications are secure.
The UK government also wants to be able to launch drones from a larger platform that is already at sea.
Private companies are being invited to submit proposals for the development of the military tech. A graphic (below) included in the guidance for applications identifies the desired drones, including a version designed special operations.
Other uses include sea mine clearance and persistent wide area surveillance.
Funding has been announced for early proposals for ‘Maritime Autonomous Systems’ by the UK government. In the guidance for applications to create the systems, it says that the technologies will be able to help support people in increasingly complex defence and security environments.
Proposals will also enable infrastructure to be developed, as well creating economic benefits.
“Maritime Mission Systems may be defined as the set of integrated equipment and human resources that provide the capability maritime vessels (Ships and Submarines) require to conduct their operational tasks,” the guidance for proposals says.
“The scope of the definition includes vessels either operating alone or in consort with other maritime vessels, or with units in the land and air domains.
“Essential sub-systems include wide ranging technologies for sensors (e.g. sonar and radar), weapons, command and control systems, command information systems, communications and networks, navigation and geospatial/temporal referencing systems.
“The subsystems may be hosted organically on the platform itself or (as increasingly the case) deployed through off-board systems such as supervised and autonomous unmanned vehicles.”
However, the project is by no means the first to be looking at using autonomous devices at sea.
Earlier this year Rolls-Royce revealed its plans to create drone ships.
The company has been designing autonomous cargo ships since 2013 and believes it won’t be too long before they can be created.
However the company has said one of the hardest things that needs to be overcome is ensuring correct regulation is in place for them to be used.
As with all autonomous devices, there needs to be strict rules and security measures in place to avoid attacks from would-be virtual pirates.
Image two courtesy of Rolls Royce