September 8, 2015
The Royal Navy has long been a source of pride for the United Kingdom. Male members of the royal family traditionally join, and much of the historic strength of the nation could be found in its navy. This pride can even be seen in the UK’s patriotic music with lyrics such as, “Rule Britannia!/Britannia rule the waves.”
The future of the Royal Navy may well include more than traditional sailors and warships. 3D printing has become increasingly important to national defense efforts and the Royal Navy has turned to QinetiQ to help it navigate the waters of the future.
According to the “Global Marine Trends 2030” report produced by QinetiQ, maritime autonomous systems will be critical in the next 15 years. The report encourages the Royal Navy to invest in print-on-demand unmanned vessels capable working in conjunction with manned vehicles.
Sarah Kenny, Managing Director of QinetiQ’s maritime business said, “The rate at which technology is advancing is simply unprecedented. Navies now face the challenge of the capabilities of existing vessels whilst transitioning to new systems and concepts of operation to exploit and defend against both evolutionary and disruptive technologies. This will require significant levels of integration, testing and evaluation in order to ensure that they work as expected and are reliable and effective.”
The Royal Navy has already begun experimentation with launching drones from ships, and will look to follow the US Navy’s example in bringing 3D printers onboard to customize drones for specific missions. Unmanned vessels operating on both the surface and underwater will offer the Royal Navy a greater degree of flexibility for operational concerns.
A network of unmanned vehicles working in concert with traditional naval ships could be used for mine disposal, surveillance and humanitarian efforts. Unmanned submersibles can get into places that would prove a tight squeeze even for divers, without exposing military personnel to dangerous conditions or enemy fire.
From the press release:
The growth in interconnected intelligent systems will require personnel to learn to work seamlessly with robotics systems. Crew members of the future will become ‘data warriors’ rather than equipment operators, creating the need for a new training paradigm and skill set.
Below you’ll find a short video of a drone being launched by the Royal Navy.