As the necessary technology develops, unmanned vessels and autonomy are increasingly being recognised as essential to enable both future navies and commercial organisations to complete specialist marine tasking and deliver capability. As a naval architecture and marine engineering consultancy at the forefront of innovation, Steller Systems is actively involved from early-stage concept development through to platform design and is acknowledged as a thought leader in the field of unmanned vessels.

Steller Systems has designed its own ground-breaking unmanned naval vessel, WRAITH, which will provide significantly enhanced flexibility and capability for maritime forces.  Following successful tank test trials of the novel hull form, the project team is currently building a scale demonstrator. WRAITH has been awarded funding from the UK’s Future Commando Force through the MOD’s Defence and Security Accelerator, which finds and funds exploitable innovation to support UK defence and security.

However, unmanned vessels cannot be designed and built in isolation; they require a corresponding ecosystem spanning the Defence Lines of Development.  Steller Systems has designed manned vessels specifically optimised for the deployment of UXVs and UAVs, taking into account the radically different concept of operations; we have also designed Launch & Recovery Systems (LARS) for the efficient deployment and capture of UXVs from existing manned vessels.

Our staff have conducted work for UK MOD to identify novel and emerging technologies that could be exploited in future UXVs, across numerous roles and sizes, and have developed roadmaps for investment and exploitation.  Our Naval Architects and Marine Engineers have presented numerous papers on the design of unmanned vehicles and autonomy at international conferences.

In this emerging field, technology must be developed hand-in-hand with concepts of operation.  Whilst the benefits of unmanned operations are universally acknowledged, the transition from manned to unmanned operations is a significant leap and poses significant challenges that need to be clearly understood.  Working in partnership with Thales, Steller Systems has developed an innovative design for TX (Transition) Ship, designed throughout to operate unmanned, but capable of operation as a lean-manned vessel in the first instance.  Successful and continued operation of TX Ship will allow confidence in the platform to be gained, allowing navies to eventually “transition” to an unmanned regime.  Steller Systems has developed the design for the vessel and has worked with our industry partners to design the next-generation, autonomous power and propulsion system.