The first fruit of the Navy's £3m investment in self-driving boats is floating about somewhere and awaiting commands, as our sea defences are now additionally shored up by a tough-looking boat able to hit speeds of 44mph all by itself.
The adapted Pacific 24 is about to undertake trials under the control of a mothership frigate or destroyer, and promises remote operation in search-and-rescue missions and coastal drug interceptions. Developed in a partnership between BAE and the Navy's NavyX tech unit, the task now is to see if it works reliably and is better than sending a few humans out; should everyone agree it's a winner in upcoming trials, a full order for many more could be placed.
Defence minister Jeremy Quin said: "Commencing the trials of the crewless Pacific 24 boat is an important stepping stone in the Royal Navy's development of its autonomous capability to ensure our fleet remains at the forefront of military innovation and technology, ready to meet the evolving threats of modern warfare." [BBC]