University Enters Five-Year Partnership to Develop Life-Saving Unmanned Maritime Vehicles


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The University of Southampton and Thales have formed a major partnership to collaborate in the research and development of the next generation of maritime autonomous systems.

A Deeper Relationship

The University has previously worked with the Thales Group on several other successful projects, including experimentation with aircraft connectivity, unmanned aerial systems and quantum navigation technology. Thales have recently sponsored some new PhD studentships with the University as well as sponsoring a Turing Pilot Project proposal at the University around ‘Flexible Autonomy for Swarms’. The new agreement will build on these to form an even deeper and more productive relationship. 

Importantly, the agreement creates a common framework which can be applied to each project, regardless of its scope and purpose, and makes it easier to launch and develop these activities. It will also create valuable spin-off opportunities for many small- to medium-sized businesses.

Professor Mark Spearing University of Southampton Vice President (Research and Enterprise) said:

“The University of Southampton is delighted to have entered into a strategic partnership with the Thales Group. The agreement recognises the University’s longstanding commitment to maritime activities, combined with its world leading autonomous systems expertise. Thales’ focus on technology innovation, aligned with the University’s research excellence, allows us to take a collaborative approach in translating research from early discovery into the applications domain. We look forward to working with Thales and its partner community, and supporting them to develop the systems of the future.” 

The University and Thales have many common areas of expertise and this partnership will bring them together to help achieve bigger results.  Both perform world-class maritime research and Thales already has a strong South Coast presence, including a Maritime Autonomy Centre at Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth, where deep water tests can be performed.

By teaming up with Thales, scientists at the University of Southampton can immerse themselves in the practical application of autonomous technology, whilst there is a strong interest from Thales to explore broader collaborations and take advantage of the vast maritime expertise which exists across the University.

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