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Austal Australia, Greenroom Robotics successfully complete autonomous patrol boat trials for Navy

Austal Australia and WA-based autonomous systems SME Greenroom Robotics have successfully completed sea acceptance trials, including endurance trials, of the remote and autonomously operated vessel Sentinel.

Austal Australia and WA-based autonomous systems SME Greenroom Robotics have successfully completed sea acceptance trials, including endurance trials, of the remote and autonomously operated vessel Sentinel.

The trials included a series of remote and autonomous navigation events conducted off the Western Australian coastline during March and April 2024, leveraging Greenroom Robotics Advanced Maritime Autonomy (GAMA) software to reliably navigate the decommissioned Armidale Class patrol boat.

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


Austal Limited chief executive officer Paddy Gregg explained the completion of the sea trials marks a significant milestone in the Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT), successfully demonstrating the capability of the locally developed autonomous systems and their integration within a full-size, Australian-made naval vessel.

“Looking ahead, we are excited about the potential opportunities to work with Navy to further advance the autonomous technology demonstrated during the trial, on projects such as the large optionally crewed surface vessels (LOSV), recently announced by the Australian government as part of the surface combatant fleet review,” Gregg said.

Commodore Michael Turner, Navy’s Director General Warfare Innovation Navy, stated, “PBAT stands out not only for its demonstration of autonomous technology and its practical application to operational vessels, but also for the spirit of collaboration that underpinned its success.”

The PBAT objectives included:

  • Significantly progress the concept of remote operations and the autonomous certification approach.
  • Increase the understanding of fuel management, communication, and navigation systems to be made autonomous.
  • Investigate and understand the sustained operation of shipboard mechanical systems without crew intervention, including systems of redundancy and reliability to support operations at sea for extended periods.
  • Provide input to long-term risk reduction for future naval projects, considering remote or autonomous vessels. This will be extended to other sensors and autonomous vehicles once the initial trial is complete.
  • Transfer lessons learned on the application of remote or autonomous systems to the Royal Australian Navy’s current fleet to potentially optimise crew workload. Remote and autonomous operation has the potential to reduce crew workload and increase operational safety by reducing human error.

The trials are funded by the Commonwealth as part of a collaboration between Austal Australia, Greenroom Robotics, Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), and the Royal Australian Navy Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) branch to establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a former Navy patrol boat to provide a proof-of-concept demonstrator for optionally crewed or autonomous operations.

Greenroom Robotics chief technology officer Harry Hubbert said, “PBAT has been a very successful collaborative project between Austal, Greenroom, TASDCRC and the RAN; the insights from all parties has been instrumental in steering us toward success. Together, we've harnessed collective expertise to deliver this groundbreaking project, setting the stage for a future brimming with maritime capability.”

In 2022, Austal Australia took possession of the decommissioned HMAS Maitland from the Commonwealth of Australia, renamed the vessel “Sentinel” and commenced planning, modification, testing and evaluation of autonomous and remotely operated systems for the PBAT.

TAS chief executive officer Glen Schafer added, “Trusted Autonomous Systems are extremely impressed and proud of the achievements of the PBAT project. Autonomous and automated features on a vessel of this size, in addition to the regulatory considerations, are complex. It is a clear demonstration of the significant innovation possible through investment in sovereign industry.”

Sentinel was extensively modified to enable remote and autonomous operations, including modifications to navigation, communications, bilges, CCTV, and electrical systems. Sensors and computer units were also added by Greenroom Robotics to inform and host the Autonomous Control System, GAMA.

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