QinetiQ has signed a £4.5m contract to lead phase four of the Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) project for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
The MAPLE project, spearheaded by QinetiQ in partnership with BAE Systems, SeeByte and Thales, seeks to demonstrate and de-risk the integration of multiple Unmanned Systems into the combat system of a Royal Navy warship.
In MAPLE phase three, QinetiQ, with its partners, led the development and build of a technology demonstrator called Autonomous Control Exploitation Realisation (ACER), a deployable prototype which is based on Dstl’s Open Architecture Combat System (OACS).
ACER provides the means by which the output of MAPLE work can be effectively demonstrated in a variety of situations.
Phase four will continue to evolve this 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 a number of live exercises, according to the company.
The project will build on the success of Unmanned Warrior 2016, which saw the successful integration of data sourced from 25 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles from 12 organisations through ACER.
Stuart Hider, QinetiQ’s director maritime programmes, said: “Through effective collaboration we are building on the ACER system’s success at Unmanned Warrior. MAPLE is a key project in unlocking the huge potential of unmanned vehicles and autonomous systems to safeguard sovereign interests.”
Speaking at the Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems Conference earlier this year, Dr Philip Smith, above water systems programme manager, Dstl, said: “It is the Royal Navy’s intention to lead and win through the innovative and robust exploitation of maritime autonomous systems. The MAPLE work is the route by which this vision is turned into reality.”