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The University of Southampton

Autonomous vessels trial marks one year of university-industry partnership

Published: 5 February 2020

A strategic partnership between the University of Southampton and Thales has developed a new form of mission management that enables human supervisors to run complex operations led by multiple autonomous vessels.

The Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS) project, led by Ship Science and Maritime Engineering lecturer Dr Jon Downes and Thales’ Ben Pritchard, is addressing current limitations around autonomous vessels that require one human controller per vehicle.

IMMS would scale up autonomous mission capability by providing a common interface that connected vessels and their payloads with a human supervisor interacting at squad level.

The joint team successfully tested the software package this winter with a three-vessel trial at Thales’ Maritime Autonomy Centre on the Plymouth waterfront. The engineers will now define further research before IMMS version 2.0 enters sea trials in September.

The first year of the university-industry strategic research partnership, which shares facilities and expertise, was recently celebrated at an event on Boldrewood Innovation Campus.

Read the full story on the main news page.


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