UK’s MAPLE autonomous platform project enters fourth phase

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UK’s Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) project is entering phase four after defense contractor Qinetiq signed a £4.5m contract to lead this phase of development.

The project is being developed for the defense ministry’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and focuses on development of autonomous maritime systems.

In MAPLE phase three, QinetiQ, BAE Systems, SeeByte and Thales developed a technology demonstrator called Autonomous Control Exploitation Realisation (ACER), a deployable prototype which is based on Dstl’s Open Architecture Combat System (OACS).

ACER provides the means by which the output of MAPLE work can be demonstrated in a variety of situations. Phase four will continue to evolve this design, validate its architecture and extend it to include communications. Advances in capability will be demonstrated through a series of synthetic experiments at QinetiQ’s Portsdown site and a number of live exercises.

The company said the project will build on the success of Unmanned Warrior 2016, which saw the successful integration of data sourced from 25 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles from 12 organisations through ACER.

Stuart Hider, QinetiQ’s Director Maritime Programmes, said: “Through effective collaboration we are building on the ACER system’s success at Unmanned Warrior. MAPLE is a key project in unlocking the huge potential of unmanned vehicles and autonomous systems in safeguarding sovereign interests.”

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