Royal Australian Navy autonomous patrol boat completes acceptance trials

PBAT Sentinel, a remote and autonomously operated vessel of the Royal Australian Navy
PBAT Sentinel during sea trials (Photo: Austal Australia)

Austal Australia has successfully completed sea acceptance trials, including endurance trials, of Sentinel, a remote and autonomously operated vessel of the Royal Australian Navy.

The trials consisted of a series of remote and autonomous navigation events conducted off the Western Australian coastline during March and April 2024. Greenroom Robotics’ proprietary maritime autonomy software was used to navigate the vessel, which is the former Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Maitland.

Throughout the trials, a limited number of project team members, observers and a crew from International Maritime Services were on board, ensuring a swift response in case of any unforeseen deviations or necessary manual interventions.

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, the Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT) project is a collaboration between Austal Australia, Greenroom Robotics, Trusted Autonomous Systems, and the Royal Australian Navy’s Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch to establish robotic, automated, and autonomous elements on a former navy patrol boat. The objective of the project is to provide a proof-of-concept demonstrator for optionally crewed or autonomous operations.

Austal said PBAT also explored the legal, regulatory pathways and requirements of operating an autonomous vessel. The company added that, at 57 metres LOA, Sentinel is the largest vessel in Australia to be operated remotely and autonomously.

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