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Industry and academia invited to try novel sensors and payloads on submarine testbed

Tech start-ups, innovators and academics are being offered the chance to showcase and test their novel sensor and payload technology on the Royal Navy’s first extra large autonomous test submarine.

The project offers a unique opportunity to undertake at-sea testing and trials of industry and academia innovative prototype technology on the pioneering Extra Large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) developed by MSubs Ltd through the first stage of the Developing the Royal Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Capability programme with the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

MOD will supply and support the XLUUV to allow for technology to be fitted and integrated, trials to be planned and carried out, and equipment removal. In addition, up to £20k will be made available to innovators who are selected for this opportunity to cover travel and subsistence costs.

The XLUUV will be made available to test on-board systems, sensors and payloads required to support a range of scenarios to help develop the Royal Navy’s understanding of the utility and operational boundaries of uncrewed underwater vehicle systems.

Full scope and examples of sensor and enabling capabilities we are interested in can be found in the competition document.

The testing is not intended at this point to lead to a procurement of sensors or payloads.

The main aim of this activity is to help the Royal Navy shape future requirements and design future capabilities and concepts of operation whilst providing innovators in industry and academia the opportunity to develop and test technology aligned to this future capability.

We are seeking novel solutions which might be prototypes (above Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 4) or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products adapted for novel use, which can be integrated with the XLUUV.

Those wishing to take part need to submit an initial one-page pitch via the DASA online submission service by midday on 8 March.


A panel of experts from the Royal Navy, Dstl and MSubs will review the pitches. Organisations will then be invited to submit a full proposal before 13 April 2021 at midday (BST).

A series of pre-bookable one-to-one sessions with the project team are available on March 2 and March 16.

Register here for 2 March 2021 (closing date Friday 26 Feb at 6pm).

Register here for 16 March 2021 (closing date Friday 12 March at 6pm)


MSubs Ltd, a Plymouth-based small and medium sized business, was previously awarded £1m to develop the test submarine.

Ngozi Aima

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