UK's Maritime Autonomy Centre opens
The centre will build on Thales’s leadership in autonomous systems and strengthen the position of UK industry in the market.
Turnchapel Wharf has a long history with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Continuing its part in maritime progression the Maritime Autonomy Centre will change the way autonomous capability is developed over the next decade by enabling rapid exploration and exploitation of emergent and disruptive technologies.
The waterfront facility will specifically provide access to trials areas for the development of cutting-edge maritime autonomous systems, and position Thales and the Royal Navy at the centre of future maritime autonomous capability. The centre is also an integral part of a joint programme between the UK and French governments to develop the next generation of autonomous mine hunting systems – the Maritime Mine Countermeasures programme (MMCM).
Thales has invested one million pounds in the facility, with a minimum five-year commitment to developing autonomous systems at the site in Plymouth, with twenty new high-skilled jobs created through its opening. 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 – such as the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre – to take advantage of Turnchapel Wharf’s world-class facilities.
Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the UK, says: “The unique waterfront location at Turnchapel Wharf will provide access to shallow and deep water trials areas for the development of cutting edge maritime solutions. Our ambition is to help anchor a vibrant ecosystem in Plymouth for the development of advanced autonomous systems and we are already working with a range of academic and industry partners to make this a reality.”
Stuart Andrew, Minister for Defence Procurement, says: “Our Armed Forces must remain a step ahead of our adversaries, something we can only do by collaborating with our leading British defence industry. Thales’s new Maritime Autonomy Centre is another great example of the work being done by our suppliers to ensure our military remains equipped with state-of-the-art capabilities. This centre of excellence will enable industry and academia to experiment and innovate together to help counter emerging sea-based threats and ensure we remain one of the world’s leading militaries.”
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “This world-class facility is adding enormously to Plymouth’s fantastic marine community, and we are delighted that it brings with it high skilled jobs and investment. Plymouth is well on its way to becoming one of Europe’s most vibrant waterfront cities and having facilities like this is essential to our growth and progress, putting the city at the forefront of maritime technology development.”