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Thales has opened a new Maritime Autonomy Centre at Turnchapel Wharf in Plymouth, UK, for the development of autonomous systems technologies, the company announced on 12 October.

The company has invested £1 million in the facility, with a minimum five-year commitment to developing autonomous systems. Local SMEs, partners and suppliers will take part in initiatives at the facility, while local schools will run STEM activities onsite. The centre will also be available to academia, enabling institutions working in partnership with Thales UK to take advantage of Turnchapel Wharf’s facilities.

The waterfront facility will provide access to trials areas for the development of maritime autonomous systems. The centre is also an integral part of the joint programme between the UK and French governments to develop the next generation of autonomous mine hunting systems – the Maritime Mine Countermeasures programme.

The facility will offer benefits such as running a programme of de-risking trials and ‘secure by design’ systems to ensure that cyber vulnerability testing and assurance is a key part of the digital offering; paving the way for autonomy in other domains, including multi-UAS and multi-domain; and developing further the other enablers to autonomy-big data, artificial intelligence, digital security and connectivity.