Exercise Unmanned Warrior highlighted some of the challenges faced by MAS technology, cultural acceptance of the concept, command and control resilience and ethical and legal considerations are some. There is however no argument that maritime autonomy will be a force multiplier for navies globally. However, progressing maritime autonomy requires a champion and Thales is committed to rising to that challenge.
Maritime forces worldwide face similar challenges: smarter, more agile and more widely dispersed adversaries in an increasingly congested environment. At the same time they are coming under the conflicting pressures of increased tempo and reducing budgets, with no additional funding for autonomous systems. These can only be reconciled by more effective practices and unlocking new capabilities through technology and commercial practices. Equally, the same technology offers opportunities to potential adversaries and counter-MAS becoming more and more important.
The legislative environment is now catching up with autonomous vehicle technology and industry needs to work closely with all stakeholders to shape a workable legal framework for the future. We are working closely with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) to develop best practice ensuring we are a responsible industry partner in MAS development.
Fulfilling the potential of maritime autonomy may be the “Dreadnought” moment for the 21st Century and our customers are now acknowledging this, understanding that soon, possessing MAS will not suffice; they must possess the most interoperable, integrated, resilient, secure and capable systems of systems that exist today and will be available tomorrow.
If MAS development becomes a race, Thales intends to be at the front.