Tidal Thames Trials For DefenceOs New Maritime Testbed - Mon 5 Sep 2016
Pictured is HMS Archer shadowing a Bladerunner craft fitted with the MAST system.
The UKs Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST), an unmanned surface vessel (USV) based on the innovative BLADERUNNER hull shape, has undergone trials in the Tidal Thames.
MAST is being developed by Portchester-based ASV Ltd, under research funding from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), providing a testbed to host a range of new technologies which allows the Ministry of Defence to test and evolve tactics for employing maritime autonomous systems.
The 32ft MAST is one of over 40 Autonomous Systems taking part in Unmanned Warrior 2016, off West Wales and NW Scotland and the Western Isles.
In conjunction with industry and international partners, the Royal Navy has created an exciting opportunity for engineers and scientists to demonstrate state of the art technology during Unmanned Warrior, the biggest event of its kind, and explore the ideas that will help shape the future of Naval Warfare for decades to come. It is linked with the regular Joint Warrior fleet Exercise and aims to test systems in an operational environment.
MAST is a unique UK designed and built craft capable of reaching high speeds on which high speed autonomy can be investigated. Various levels of autonomy include basic remote control up to autonomous navigation. The craft is designed to operate autonomously in an unmanned mode, sensing other vessels in the immediate vicinity and avoiding them in a safe manner. The avoidance algorithms are designed to comply with internationally mandated collision regulations. When operating on a busy waterway (such as the Thames), the craft is operated with a coxswain on board ready to take control.
It does not carry weapons, but is designed to explore autonomous capabilities and support non-lethal surveillance and reconnaissance roles