British navy sends robots to sea in military exercise

It's not about sinking ships, but about surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mine countermeasures

The Royal Navy is testing just how much robot craft can do by themselves in military exercises off the British coast.

Operation Unmanned Warrior 16 is a chance for allied nations and the defense industry to show off their latest maritime autonomous systems, as part of a broader military exercise called Joint Warrior.

"Fire and forget" torpedoes capable of homing in on the noise emitted by a target -- then sinking it -- have been around since World War II, but the systems involved in this exercise are less offensive.

More than 50 craft are taking part this week, including uncrewed helicopters and underwater vehicles, and an autonomous rigid inflatable boat (RIB). They will perform tasks such as surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mine countermeasures.

Some of the craft are operating out of the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre on the coast of Scotland. The center conducts trials year-round for the U.K. Ministry of Defence, and during the exercise will demonstrate three of Unmanned Warrior's five themes: command and control, mine hunting, and hydrographic survey.

Among the craft under test are Remus 100 and Remus 600, which use sonar beams to locate mines and to map the sea bed, and the Blue Bear Blackstart fixed-wing uncrewed aerial vehicle, which serves as a communications relay when the other craft are out of direct radio range of the base.

A key part of the exercise is to determine how the different autonomous craft can be made to interact with one another, whether relaying signals or giving shorter-range craft a ride to and from the operations area.

Some of the underwater mapping craft can run missions of up to eight hours without human intervention -- longer if another autonomous vehicle picks them up and carries them back to base. At one stage of the exercise nine autonomous craft were interacting with one another to complete their missions, the Navy said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags robotsmilitary

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?