The Royal Navy is using artificial intelligence to task autonomous submersibles with hunting underwater mines.
British geospatial and data company Envitia, which has expertise around applying AI and machine learning to complex data problems, along with its partner BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, has been selected to deliver this, one of the first AI projects for the Royal Navy.
Mine-hunting is currently carried out by a fleet of mine-hunter ships using sonar to survey seabeds looking for anomalies. But these new AI-enabled submersibles will be much quicker in being able to scan an object, identify the threat, and make decisions about what to do with it.
The Royal Navy’s Route Survey & Tasking Analysis (RSTA) project will adopt autonomous vehicles, open architectures and AI, with the intention to deliver an unmanned capability for routine mine countermeasure tasks in UK waters by the year 2022.
Outgoing First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said: “AI is set to play a key role in the future of the service. As modern warfare becomes ever faster, and ever more data-driven, our greatest asset will be the ability to cut through the deluge of information to think and act decisively.”
Envitia, as the prime contractor, is working with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence to deliver RSTA, one of the first applications to be built on the Royal Navy developed NELSON data platform. This is a common data platform to deliver coherent access to Royal Navy data at sea and ashore.
Sandy Boxall, BAE Systems Sales Director, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Envitia on this important project, it is hugely complementary to our work on Programme NELSON and demonstrates our commitment to supporting SMEs in the UK MOD marketplace.”
In addition, Envitia is utilising its maritime geospatial toolkit to deliver geospatial services into the application, to ensure RSTA has accurate and up-to-date maritime data for each mission.
Nabil Lodey, Envitia CEO, said: “Envitia has a strong heritage with maritime data, and this project demonstrates the successful journey Envitia has been on since last year, working with our customers to utilise authoritative data to aid mission planning through to post-mission analysis. This application has the potential to transform mine surveying and increase the efficiency of the Navy mine-hunting capability, and we are proud to be leading the way.”
As part of the Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) programme, RSTA will intelligently task a fleet of autonomous vehicles, utilising machine learning, to analyse mission conditions and improve the success rate of all its missions over time.