Remote Control Boats

From BAE, in conjunction with ASV;

Unmanned technology with the potential to change the face of naval operations within a decade has successfully been demonstrated for the first time by BAE Systems in partnership with ASV at a site near Portsmouth Naval Base. The new system will allow crews to carry out vital tasks such as high speed reconnaissance and remote surveillance while keeping sailors out of harm’s way.

The modified boat is capable of operating autonomously for up to 12 hours at a time on either a pre-planned route or via remote control. It can reach speeds in excess of 38 knots (44 miles per hour), providing unique ship-launched manoeuvrability and enhanced situational awareness to support the decision-making of its operators. The technology is designed to be fitted to the Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) like those already used extensively by the Royal Navy.

Underpinning the system’s ability to operate autonomously is its complex array of sensors, including a navigation radar, 360 degree panoramic infrared camera array and laser range finder which offer operators a detailed picture within a significant range of the vessel.

“This technology delivers an extremely robust and fast-moving unmanned boat that is able to perform a number of surveillance and reconnaissance roles, even when operating at high speed or in choppy water,” said Les Gregory, Product and Training Services Director at BAE Systems.

“BAE Systems has a wealth of experience in the development and integration of unmanned systems. The successful demonstration highlights the enhanced capability this technology offers. While other programmes are primarily designed for larger, slower boats to tackle mine counter-measure scenarios, this system provides an extremely manoeuvrable multi-role vessel.”

The unmanned system and software algorithms controlling the boat were provided by Portchester-based unmanned and autonomous specialist, ASV. BAE Systems has been working closely with ASV to integrate the technology and prove the concept through the demonstrator.  The next stage in its development is to create the sensor suite before ensuring a seamless integration with the combat management system on the parent ship.

Dan Hook, Managing Director for ASV said: “The algorithms we’re developing with BAE Systems allow the boat to perform complex missions and navigate through waters avoiding collisions.

“This gives it the flexibility and sophistication to operate in a number of different tactical roles, whether it’s patrolling areas of interest, providing surveillance and reconnaissance ahead of manned missions, or protecting larger ships in the fleet.”

The boats will be able to operate up to 40km away from their parent ship.  As well as being completely autonomous they can also be remote-controlled by crew on land, from the ship via a hand-held controller or piloted as usual.

The technology is designed as a retrofit to the manned Pacific 24 RIB already deployed across Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 Destroyers. These boats will also go on to the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers once they enter service.

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14 Comments
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HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 20, 2015 8:37 am

Always is the case–don’t want to risk lives. Join the Navy, don’t man the boat.

Beno
Beno
October 20, 2015 8:38 am

I’d like to see the sensor feeds, and of course the cost, but this looks like a very very promising technology.

Beno

Engineer Tom
October 20, 2015 8:59 am

It is interesting in terms of operating new remote mine hunting kit from existing vessels with little modification to the vessel itself, i.e. you can use the existing boat and davit, hence cutting implementation costs.

LouisB
LouisB
October 20, 2015 10:23 am
Reply to  Engineer Tom

It would be a reasonable assumption that ways of ‘weaponising’ the RIB are already being mulled over.

DomS
DomS
October 20, 2015 10:38 am

Wonder how permanent the modification is? i.e. can it be optionally manned, for increased flexibility? Equally, if someone climbed on board could they unplug the computer and nick the boat?!!

Engineer Tom
October 20, 2015 1:45 pm

I would like to see a system with less than a six hour turn around by two personnel to fit and check the system before use. This would put it in the realm of being able to quickly deploy a system, whilst not requiring it too be permanently fitted just in case, ships take their time going places so the system could be fitted en-route or once onsite even.

RCT(V)
RCT(V)
October 20, 2015 3:23 pm

I do hope someone thought to patent the idea !!

pjs
pjs
October 20, 2015 5:40 pm

…I am reminded of the sketch with [a deaf] Rowan Atkinson where he is given some tech [ a flashing light ] to inform him that the phone is ringing … splendid, for knowing when the phone needs answering, but doesn’t solve the problem that he cant hear the caller [laughter]

so this ‘drug interdiction’ scenario the BAE executive mentions… the RIB is very cleverly steered [remotely] to the target boat [all the interdiction team safely ‘out of harms way’ back at the mother ship]. Can someone explain to me how the remotely-controlled vehicle [with no one aboard] then undertakes a search of the target boat… cheers

S O
S O
October 20, 2015 6:27 pm
Reply to  pjs

I suppose this is more relvant as an offboard decoy than for classic RHIB purposes.

X SMR
X SMR
October 20, 2015 9:50 pm

May as well become a UAV Bomber Pilot

Observer
Observer
October 20, 2015 9:53 pm

SO, yes. From what I heard, when we deployed Protectors to Iraq, it helped cut down a lot of the “suicide bomber” risk for the challenge crew. It also helped to challenge the unknown early so that they can get advance notice of his intentions (i.e he keeps coming after being challenges = potentially hostile. This was after the USS Cole, so people were cautious.

DomS
DomS
October 21, 2015 8:08 am

Good point SO, bang a big radar reflector on it and it would make a nice manoeuvring decoy. Actually you could maybe put a decoy emitter on it too (although it’s not very tall)

Engineer Tom
October 21, 2015 6:08 pm

Mine hunting will be the main use, towing sonar’s or decoys designed to trigger mines, or launching UUV’s. Looking at the Anglo-French program a big part about it is having a USV, this could be a way to deploy some of the equipment without a custom designed USV.

S O
S O
October 22, 2015 5:11 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

@Engineer Tom:
“towing sonar’s or decoys designed to trigger mines”

Look up what we Germans have been doing for decades already: Keyword “Seehund”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensdorf-class_minesweeper#Seehund_ROV

related:
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2009/02/fact-check-military-hardware-novelty.html