Picture: New Royal Navy autonomous minesweeper at Weymouth Bay, in Dorset (Image: MoD)
The Royal Navy has begun trialling its first ever autonomous minesweeper system, that can safely clear sea lanes of mines.
The system has been designed and manufactured by Atlas Elektronik UK, under a £13 million Ministry of Defence contract, with the aim of reducing the risk to service personnel.
At present, the equipment used to destroy mines needs to be manned by a crew and specialist divers can be required to identify mines by hand.
The new unmanned minehunters will have the ability to defeat digital sea mines which can detect and target military ships passing overhead.
The sweeper system, which features a “sense and avoid” capability are also able to work together with other similar autonomous systems.
Defence Minister Guto Bebb said:
“This autonomous minesweeper takes us a step closer to taking our crews out of danger and allowing us to safely clear sea lanes of explosives, whether that’s supporting trade in global waters and around the British coastline, or protecting our ships and shores.
"Easily transported by road, sea and air, the high-tech design means a small team could put the system to use within hours of it arriving in theatre. We are investing millions in innovative technology now, to support our military of the future.”