BAE Systems Receives Grant to Design the UK’s First Autonomous Systems Testing Facility

BAE Systems recently received a £457,000 grant from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to design and deliver the UK’s first dedicated autonomous systems testing service. The Solent LEP, the heart of the UK’s Marine and Maritime sector, and partner organizations are investing £1.5 million in this project overall.

BAE Systems will work with ASV Global, Blue Bear Systems Research, Marine Electronic Systems, SeeByte and the University of Southampton to provide the service’s infrastructure, according to a news release. Other organizations are set to join later this year.

The new service will offer customers a place to conduct trials and to test systems such as unmanned boats, air vehicles and autonomous sensors in a safe, controlled, realistic environment. The service will use a secure maritime communications network and a mobile command and control center that features the same technology BAE Systems provides to UK Royal Navy platforms. It’s expected to be ready later this year.

“Autonomous and unmanned systems are widely regarded as a vital technology for the future, but there is a great deal of work to be done if we are to unlock its true potential and understand how they are best integrated into wider systems,” BAE Systems’ Combat Systems Head of Technology Frank Cotton said, according to the release. “A wide range of organizations from the defense and commercial sectors, along with academia, have ambitions for this technology and this unique service will allow them to find valuable ways to use it whilst furthering its development.”