UK to use autonomous patrol vessel to combat people smugglers

  • April 27, 2021
  • William Payne

The British navy has taken delivery of an autonomous high speed patrol vessel that can track boats used by people traffickers to cross the English Channel at night.

The new autonomous vessel features a range of advanced sensors and maritime intelligence systems.

The autonomous boat is to undergo trials by the navy’s experimental technology division, NavyX. 

Named Madfox (Maritime Demonstrator For Operational eXperimentation), it is derived from technology firm L3Harris’ Mast-13 vessel, which for the past 18 months has been operated by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on a series of trials with the British Royal Navy.  

Over the next few months, NavyX will carry on its work with Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV), while also examining how these vessels can deliver across the range of military operations including surveillance and force protection.

Commander Antony Crabb, NavyX team leader, said: “With Madfox now directly in the hands of NavyX, the team will be able to explore a multitude of issues such as safety, regulatory compliance, new missions, new payloads and the role that a USV can play in complex operations and within the future fleet.”