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DTDT 2022: Royal Navy official calls for new experimentation facility

A Royal Navy (RN) official has called for a digital experimentation facility for the service. Pictured is XV Patrick Blackett , which was noted as potentially playing an important role if the facility came to fruition. (Damen Shipyards)

A Royal Navy (RN) official has called for an experimentation facility for autonomous naval systems.

Speaking at the Disruptive Technology for Defence Transformation (DTDT 2022) conference in London, held from 27 to 29 September, the official said that following the success of the Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping augmented by Maritime Uncrewed Systems 2022 (REPMUS-22) exercise, a digital experimentation facility that enables the RN to facilitate this type of autonomous exercise remotely and more consistently would be advantageous.

This facility evokes similarities with NavyX – the RN autonomy and lethality accelerator that rapidly develops, tests, and trials novel equipment such as autonomous systems. When asked about this, the official said that the RN does not have a digital experimentation facility such as the one they are proposing, and it would be different from NavyX.

XV Patrick Blackett – a RN experimental vessel that acts as a testbed and trials ship – could be useful for the experimentation facility, the official said.

REPMUS is an annual exercise hosted by the Portuguese Navy in collaboration with NATO members. In 2022 the exercise involved the integration of 120 autonomous systems in a single network, acting as a testbed for a range of experiments and trials.

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