The XLUUV is a platform the Royal Navy uses to understand potential capabilities of autonomous vehicles. This competition is looking for technologies ready for on-platform testing and validation which can help the Royal Navy innovate for the next generation of underwater capabilities.

Trialling sensors and payloads on the XLUUV will develop the Royal Navy’s understanding of the utility and operational boundaries of Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV) systems. We are now in the latter stage of the original competition ‘Developing the Royal Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Capability’. The XLUUV is being tested in representative environments for extended periods. Stage 2 sea trials start in March 2021 and are open-ended (primarily determined by weather).

The XLUUV will test sensors and payloads in a range of scenarios. The testing is not intended at this point to lead to a procurement of sensors or payloads. Rather, the key objective of this competition is to gain insights from these tests, including the potential and limitations of UUV, to help the Royal Navy shape future requirements and design future capabilities and concepts of operation.

Up to £20k will be made available to innovators who are selected from this competition, for travel and subsistence costs, and the costs of any integration and removal time.

This is an opportunity for suppliers to demonstrate capabilities at high Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of TRL 4 and above. Funding is not available for development of low TRL solutions. This competition closes on 13 April 2021 (BST) at midday, but a one-page pitch must be submitted by 8th March at midday.

Though it is possible to increase presence in the underwater battlespace with smaller, discrete, autonomous systems, these cannot complete many of the operations undertaken by larger crewed vehicles. These missions include but are not limited to surveillance and reconnaissance; underwater data gathering; discrete payload delivery and recovery; and remote automated sense and warn capability.

The Royal Navy needs fully autonomous systems with similar capabilities including the ability to sense, understand and decide without human input. The systems will complement crewed platforms, by increasing mass in the underwater battlespace and taking over dull, dirty and dangerous tasks from crewed platforms.

The exact composition of the autonomous underwater force (its “force mix”) is not yet determined, therefore all proposals should be designed only around the XLUUV. Bidders should be mindful of space, weight and power requirements of the trial XLUUV platform, which is 8.95m long and weighs 8.9 tonnes. An interface document provides more detail. All suppliers will need to request a copy of the interface document by email to accelerator@dstl.gov.uk. For supplier confidentiality reasons it has not been listed publicly on this competition page.

The trialling of sensors and payloads in an underwater environment on a large underwater vessel is a complex undertaking and successful suppliers are expected to work closely with the Royal Navy project team to ensure successful delivery.
Sensor types that could be considered for these trials;

  • electro-optical (EO)
  • electronic warfare (EW)
  • communications electronic support measures (CESM)
  • and acoustic or non-acoustic surveillance systems (for example credible long range Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW))

However, this list is not exhaustive and other sensors will be considered on their individual merit.

Enabling capabilities that could be considered for these trials are ones which improve;

  • mobility
  • control
  • endurance
  • energetics
  • autonomy
  • trust
  • reliability
  • availability
  • cost efficiency

This competition has a two-step submission process;

1) Submit a One-Page Pitch. The one-page pitch must be completed on DASA’s online submission platform following the onscreen guidance. Successful proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal;

2) Submit a Full Proposal. The full proposal includes details of the sensor(s) or payload(s). All innovations must be at TRL 4 and above that require testing or validation in sea trials. Further information on TRLs can be found on our website.

£20K funding is available to all successful proposals. This is to provide travel, subsistence and time in support of the XLUUV team for integration and subsequent removal of any equipment. Cost breakdown and justification is to be included with each proposal.

Proposals must include a short description of any previous testing and trialling undertaken, if classification, IP or NDA restrictions do not allow disclosure then the wording; “previous testing and trialling has taken place and is bound by extant IP/NDA/Classification issue (delete as appropriate)” must be inserted. They must also clearly identify the capability that the supplier wishes to test / validate in the trial, how the data collected will prove this capability, and the benefit that will be gained from a successful trial. A brief overview of the trial plan should be included in the proposal, the Royal Navy team will then work with the supplier to create a detailed plan.

We want novel solutions which might be prototypes (above TRL 4) or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products adapted for novel use, which can be integrated with the XLUUV in order to develop the Royal Navy’s concept of use for UUVs.

Your proposal should include the following:

  • evidence of a sensor or payload that will contribute to enhanced XLUUV operations, and that has reached a prototype stage (TRL 4 or above) and requires testing
  • or evidence of novel use case for adapting a COTS product
  • a clear demonstration of how the proposed sensor / payload will improve how an XLUUV operates, either through contributing to the vignettes detailed in section 8 or another idea which will be evaluated on a case by case basis

 

For interested parties, 1-1 briefings are available from DASA as follows:

2nd March 2021: ten slots available between 10am and 4pm. Click here to book a slot (must be booked by 26th February at 6pm, first come first served).

16th March 2021: ten slots available between 10am and 4pm. Click here to book a slot (must be booked by 12th March at 6pm, first come first served – note that one page pitches must be submitted by 8th March, which is before the date of this call).