Onboard the fully autonomous boat that could save lives at sea

ITV News Health and Science Correspondent Martin Stew steps aboard an uncrewed autonomous boat with its own brain

In the shadow of Britain’s biggest warship, we were given a first look at what the future could hold for naval operations.

A boat with a brain of its own.

Here, on the Solent, BAE Systems - which is most known for its work in the air - is developing a fully autonomous craft for the seas.

We joined as the USV - an uncrewed autonomous boat - is in its testing phase, with two sailors controlling the throttle.

But as we head out beyond the harbour walls, it’s time for the crew to leave this 1500 horsepower boat, and for the autonomous computer to take control.

It can drive and steer itself up to speeds of 70 miles per hour.

ITV News were given a first look at what the future of naval operations could look like. Credit: ITV News

Though they’re currently working on its ability to park and dodge debris and other vessels.

The hope is that autonomous boats can be used for jobs which are dirty, dull or dangerous. It could mean the saving of man hours and, in some cases, lives themselves.

The team tells me that such vessels could be deployed on long surveillance patrols; heading out in rough seas, or delivering marines to battlefields.

But there is always a human ready to take control.

To avoid a Terminator-style takeover, the autonomous system can be turned off at any time - or even switched to remote control.

And while it’s being designed specifically for the military - in theory, the kit can be fitted to any similar sized vessel.

It’s hoped in time this portal tech could can help in search and rescue at sea and even allow Border Force to better police the English Channel.

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