Maritime Autonomous Systems driving the biggest advancement in maritime security in over a century

Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, released today, is the culmination of a collaborative project between Lloydā€™s Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton looking at the future for: commercial shipping ā€“ without which world trade would cease; for navies ā€“ so vital for security; and the health of the oceans ā€“ the vital resource that defines the wellbeing of our world.

  • Future naval activity to be dominated by networks of unmanned surface and underwater vessels
  • Consumer driven technology developments will have increasingly significant impact, by giving adversaries the means to threaten existing sophisticated military systems
  • Radical new skill set will be required for crew members in the navies of the future to navigate the opportunities and threats that technology jointly brings

7 September 2015: Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, released today, is the culmination of a collaborative project between Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton looking at the future for: commercial shipping – without which world trade would cease; for navies – so vital for security; and the health of the oceans – the vital resource that defines the wellbeing of our world.

In asking ‘what’s next’ GMTT 2030 is an aid to business, policy makers and society in trying to understand the future for the maritime industries and the oceans. Assessing 56 technologies and then focusing on 18 specific areas of technology, GMTT 2030 builds on the scenarios work in Global Marine Trends 2030 and Global Marine Fuel Trends 2030 to provide insight into the impact and – critically – the timescales of transformative technology.

The growing importance of Maritime Autonomous Systems will characterise naval activity of the future, according to the Global Marine Trends 2030 (GMT 2030) report. The report looks at how future naval operations will be conducted, considering the application and integration of emerging technologies over the next two decades across Maritime Security, Warfighting and Humanitarian Operations.

Networks of unmanned surface and underwater vessels are set to radically change the nature of maritime operations, and will become integral to naval capability programmes from mine hunting and augmenting submarine operations to supporting humanitarian efforts by delivering vital aid safely. However, many of the naval vessels in service in 2030 have already been commissioned, and were designed without these concepts in mind. The principal challenge will therefore be the integration of these autonomous systems into current force structures and vessels.

The advancement in technology development is as much an opportunity for navies as it is a threat. Cyber and electronic warfare technology development will continue at pace. Advanced materials and advanced manufacturing are key enabling technologies. Trials are already underway to conduct 3-D printing on board ships, enabling the “printing” of autonomous vehicles to suit specific mission needs in situ. However, the proliferation of disruptive technologies driven by demand in major consumer electronics markets will increasingly empower malicious individuals, terrorists and non-state actors to utilise these technologies as weapons, posing an increasingly serious threat to sophisticated naval forces.

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. The potential for the command and control to be geographically displaced from the vessel will also require behavioural and cultural changes within the military communities.

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.”

For a copy of Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 please download below.

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