Royal Navy Tech Chief: Drone Ships Will Replace Sailors

Royal Navy Tech Chief: Drone Ships Will Replace Sailors

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Unmanned vessels will become central to the Royal Navy’s efforts in minesweeping and anti-terror missions, says a top commander, and will eventually replace manned ships for these purposes.

The Royal Navy’s most senior technology officer, Commander Peter Pipkin, has said that drone ships are becoming “critical” to naval warfare. Work on unmanned and autonomous vessels was “some of the most exciting stuff the navy has done for some time,” he said, and these craft will soon replace sailors for a range of missions.

Pipkin made the remarks speaking with The Times at a preview for the Unmanned Warrior – an event to designed to showcase seaborne drone technology off the Scottish coast in October.

During Unmanned Warrior, some 40 research and development firms from around the world will participate in operational tests of their developments in the fields of anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance.

To see which of the craft perform best, and how they could propel the Navy into the future, the machines will participate in a sort of “robot wars” event, that the Navy hopes will show the way for how innovative approaches could revolutionise maritime warfare.

Unmanned Warrior will play host to a world first demonstration of a drone capable of autonomously landing on a moving sea vessel. “Autoland” from Roke Manor Research uses cameras and advanced modelling to land the drone with no human assistance.

Another promising piece of technology to be displayed is the Sonobuoy, which can be deployed as an array to search for submarines.

The ATLAS Remote Combine Influence Minesweeping System will be on display, as well. ATLAS is an unmanned vessel that launches mine detecting drones into the water.