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Dstl, NUWC trial autonomous maritime asset protection system

As part of the experimentation programme trials took place in Portland harbour in October 2021 using Dstl's containerised Integrated Test Facility and two USVs previously delivered under the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed programme. (Dstl)

The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has revealed details of a joint US/UK science and technology programme designed to demonstrate the role that maritime autonomous systems can play in protecting high-value assets and critical infrastructures.

The cross-domain concept demonstrator, known as the Autonomous Maritime Asset Protection System (AMAPS), has been developed under a joint programme involving Dstl, the Royal Navy (RN), industry partners, and the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport. The three-year effort has involved both synthetic testing and at-sea experimentation in a trial off the southern coast of England.

AMAPS has been conceived as a port and harbour security system with the ability to detect possible threats, determine their identity, deny access to restricted areas, and, if required, deliver a defeat mechanism. According to Dstl, the prime objective has been to better understand how autonomous systems, operating alongside more ‘traditional' manned technology, can improve detection, tracking, classification, and defeat against surface and subsurface threats. In particular, maritime autonomous systems are considered to offer a more persistent and responsive capability that – combined with sensor systems and appropriate command-and-control (C2) – provide a unified asset protection capability.

The C2 function for AMAPS has been enabled through Dstl's Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) project. MAPLE is an information architecture designed to enable a single operator to plan, task, and manage multiple unmanned and increasingly autonomous vehicles.

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