Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, will lead a project to develop new technologies to support unmanned naval vehicle missions, following an award of $3 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
The development of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) is a rapidly expanding part of naval marine technology, and Rolls-Royce has extensive capability in the handling systems that enable these advanced craft to be launched, refuelled and recovered from the sea.
Rolls-Royce will develop automated systems to support the missions carried out by unmanned naval vehicles, including mine-countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, coastal security patrols and environmental data collection. Rolls-Royce will design refuelling systems so unmanned craft can remain at sea for longer periods, and handling equipment that can deploy underwater sensors remotely from these advanced craft.
Jay McFadyen, President of Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Inc. said: “Future naval and patrol vessels will increasingly use unmanned vehicles to carry out a variety of missions. We are delighted that ACOA is providing significant support to develop these capabilities in our Canadian facilities which are ideally situated close to many of our industrial, academic and governmental partners.
“This research programme will enable us to develop sophisticated systems with significant market potential, and firmly establish this region of Canada as a centre of excellence for these cutting edge technologies.”
Dennis Duke, Advanced Programs Director for Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Inc. added: “The technologies resulting from this project will fill a technology gap and provide naval operators with the ability to deploy unmanned vehicles to conduct a variety of missions without putting sailors in harm’s way. In addition, the refuelling system will eliminate the requirement to bring the unmanned vehicle back onboard the ship so it can return to its mission with minimal turnaround.”
Rolls-Royce intends to leverage its expertise as a leading supplier of sensor handling and stowage systems for naval vessels to develop similar technology for USVs and UUVs that can be rapidly reconfigured for various missions. This will require more lightweight and compact designs with a high level of automation.