Austal completes sea trials of Australia’s autonomously operated vessel

Austal Australia, as part of the Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT) project, has completed sea acceptance trials (including endurance trials) of the remote and autonomously operated vessel, Sentinel.

Austal Australia

The trials, conducted by Austal Australia, consisted of a series of remote and autonomous navigation events that took place off the Western Australian coastline during March and April 2024.

Austal used Greenroom Robotics’ Advanced Maritime Autonomy (GAMA) software for safe operations.

Throughout the trials, a limited number of project team members, observers and a crew from International Maritime Services (IMS) were on board.

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, PBAT is a collaboration between Austal Australia, Greenroom Robotics, Trusted Autonomous Systems and the Royal Australian Navy Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch to establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a former navy patrol boat.

In 2022, Austal Australia took possession of the decommissioned HMAS Maitland from the Commonwealth of Australia, renamed the vessel ‘Sentinel’ and commenced planning, modification, testing and evaluation of autonomous and remotely operated systems for the PBAT.

At 57 meters lenght, Sentinel is (by a significant extent) the largest vessel in Australia to be operated remotely and autonomously, according to Austal.

Sentinel was extensively modified to enable remote and autonomous operations, including modifications to navigation, communications, bilges, CCTV, and electrical systems. Sensors and computer units were also added by Greenroom Robotics to inform and host the Autonomous Control System, GAMA.

“Looking ahead, we are excited about the potential opportunities to work with Navy to further advance the autonomous technology demonstrated during the trial; on projects such as the Large Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels (LOSV), recently announced by the Australian Government as part of the Surface Combatant Fleet Review,” Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said.