UK Ministry of Defense has tested Pacific Rigid 24 Inflatable Boat (PAC24) autonomous drone boat alongside a warship, transmitting imagery from the vessel to the ship for the first time during a series of demonstrations, at DSEI-2019 exhibition in London, UK.
"This is much more than an autonomous surface vessel demonstration for the Royal Navy. What we are doing is the first step of exploiting system architecture in a complex warship to integrate an unmanned system into the ship," Cmdr. Sean Trevethan, NavyX director, said.
The PAC24 was tested at London's Docklands on the Thames River, with the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll present and integrated in the new vessel's data systems. The data connection allows the two crafts to exchange important tactical data. Public tests will continue for the rest of the week.
The 25 feet long craft was developed by BAE Systems, with funding from NavyX, the Royal Navy Autonomous Hardware Accelerator project, which began earlier this year with $92 million from the government's Defense Transformation Fund. It is designed to travel surrounding a naval task force, remote-controlled from a ship. It can identify mines and collect intelligence on other nearby ships in the water. With its integration with warships, its potential applications include anti-piracy operations, border control, intelligence gathering, maritime security and general protection. The vessel can travel up to 45 mph at patrol speed, or 100 mph in pursuit mode.