Science and technology group QinetiQ (Stands S2-550 and S2-341) has been awarded a £4.5 million contract by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to lead Phase 4 of the Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) project.
This next stage will build on the success of the UK Royal Navy’s (RN’s) Unmanned Warrior 2016 (UW16) demonstration, which saw the successful integration of data sourced from 25 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles from 12 organisations through the Autonomous Control Exploitation Realisation (ACER) technology demonstrator.
Under the MAPLE umbrella, an industry team of QinetiQ, BAE Systems, Thales and SeeByte has been working to develop a capability for the effective and efficient integration of the control of unmanned vehicles, and the exploitation of their capability into the maritime chain of command.
MAPLE Phase 1 saw feasibility studies and some preliminary architecting. Phase 2 followed with a more comprehensive architecting effort, giving rise to what has been characterised as the Persistent Architecture.
During Phase 3, the QinetiQ-led team undertook the development and build of ACER as a deployable prototype. Based on Dstl’s Open Architecture Combat System, ACER provided a platform to demonstrate research exploitation and deliver an early MAPLE-derived demonstrator for use in UW16.
According to QinetiQ, MAPLE Phase 4 will continue to evolve the system design, validate its architecture and extend it to include communications. Advances in capability will be demonstrated through a series of synthetic experiments at QinetiQ’s Portsdown site, and in a number of live exercises. The intention is that the system configuration to be tested will match closely the intended implementation on an RN warship.