BAE Systems announces £20 million investment into AR and AI technologies for future naval ship combat systems

November 22, 2018 – BAE Systems has unveiled a range of technology solutions that it states will modernise the capability of future combat systems on complex warships. A £20m investment will see augmented reality and artificial intelligence developed for future application to the critical systems that give warships their combat capability.

BAE Systems has said that these innovations will help naval personnel improve their decision making in the future battlespace, allowing them to respond more readily to threats. They will also be designed so a vessel’s combat systems can be easily updated, helping to maintain operational effectiveness for many years to come and reducing through-life support costs.

The developments are part of the company’s ongoing commitment to investing in technology and innovation in order to ensure that its systems and products meet evolving threats and requirements, and deliver the most efficient solutions for its customers.

Frank Cotton, Head of Technology, Combat Systems at BAE Systems, said: “These technologies have the potential to transform maritime warfare and greatly increase the situational awareness and efficiency of crews on board Royal Navy ships. Our combat systems expertise and investment in future technologies will ensure we continue to deliver innovative capabilities to navies.”

Part of the investment will see the integration of AR into the bridges of naval ships, through products such as wearable AR glasses. This will allow an Officer of the Watch, who is responsible for the ship’s safety, to work outside of the operations room and still be able to see tactical situation data and other vital information from anywhere on the ship.

This ability could result in information such as the location of friendly vessels or other data being overlaid onto a real world view, giving crews enhanced situational awareness. The use of AR would also allow the officer to spend more time maintaining a ‘heads-up’ visual lookout without the need to refer to a console or rely on clarifications from his crew – instead, taking control of situations with increased effectiveness and adaptability.

BAE Systems is also enhancing the Shared Infrastructure technology it develops on behalf of the Royal Navy by introducing ‘open systems’ architecture. Open architecture technology will work in a similar way to a consumer ‘app store’, allowing crews to deploy new capabilities, increasing their flexibility and ability to respond to emerging situations in the future battlespace. The system will allow a ship’s combat systems to be quickly reconfigured to suit the requirements of specific operations. By introducing increased flexibility, ships can be equipped with tools tailored to a wide range of specific activities, from mine disposal to humanitarian missions.

Engineers are also implementing artificial intelligence aids into combat systems, allowing their users to quickly process data and reach crucial decisions faster, providing a vital advantage in combat. Artificial intelligence aids will provide crew with the most important information as well as recommended courses of action.

BAE Systems has developed combat systems expertise for more than 30 years and its technologies are used across the Royal Navy’s surface fleet. These systems give crews the information they need to track, analyse and respond to threats in combat, as well as coordinating resources in other operations including intelligence gathering and disaster relief.

Image credit: BAE Systems