A little more than a year ago, 40 global research and defense companies met to discuss how unmanned systems could be used by the world's armies, air forces and navies in the defense systems of the future. This led to the British Royal Navy staging its first 'robot wars' last fall to give companies the chance to demonstrate their latest technology in a realistic workout. In the largest exercise of its kind ever staged, 'Unmanned Warrior', held off the coasts of Scotland and Wales, provided an international showcase for industry to demonstrate what autonomous systems can do for naval warfare, including the use of unmanned vessels (AUVs, ROVs, USVs) in surveys, antisubmarine warfare, ISTAR (information, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) and mine hunting.
Royal Navy Fleet Robotics Officer, Commander Peter Pipkin, stated that Unmanned Warrior, the brainchild of First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, was "a unique and innovative challenge to deliver the Royal Navy's vision for autonomous systems."
Sir Philip Jones, Fleet Commander and Vice-Admiral at the time, added that as an instinctive innovator and exploiter of modern technology, the Royal Navy was enthusiastic about new ideas, new concepts and new technology: "In our view the unique selling point of Unmanned Warrior is its ability to provide a playground, if you like, in which we can simultaneously demonstrate unmanned systems and do so across a range of warfare disciplines. We see a clear opportunity to shape the future of not just the Royal Navy but a raft of our partners."