Developing the Royal Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Capability

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £1 million in Stage 1 of this DASA funding competition, to develop an autonomously operating unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) system.

Programme:     DASA

Award:     Share of up to £1 million

Opens: 17th Apr 2019

Closes: 11th Jun 2019

! This scheme is now closed


This competition is interested in autonomous systems that can control underwater vehicles capable of performing an extended range of testing, for example, by delivering modular, adaptable payloads for a range of deployable and organic sensor and detection capabilities. Novel research and innovation is required to develop the autonomy needed to be able to control a XLUUV.


Stage 1 consists of the research and innovation to support autonomous system development including fitting to an existing vehicle and a short seaworthy / autonomy test; and Stage 2 consists of more in-depth testing to understand the future utility and concept of operations. Some minor refit/adaptation will be permitted between tests in Stage 2 but the system is expected to be adaptable in order to reduce down-time.

Proposals must address how you will achieve the following during seaworthiness and autonomy trials at the end of Stage 1:

  • basic manoeuvrability: diving to depth, following waypoints, navigation accuracy, 24 hour endurance
  • basic autonomy: simple obstacle avoidance (forward look, not shallow water)
  • basic payload: deploy a 1m3 – 250kg payload, recovery not required during Stage 1

The system should, by the conclusion of Stage 2, be able to:

  • operate independently for a minimum of 3 months
  • operate at significant range from the position of deployment (e.g. up to 3000 nautical miles)
  • carry, deliver and recover test payloads of >2m3 and 2 metric tonnes
  • provide flexible, accurate and timely covert intelligence gathering capability
  • provide an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) barrier capability

Your proposal should include:

  • research and development / innovation to develop autonomy compatible with the chosen UUV
  • how you plan to develop the autonomous system for UUVs through adapting an existing underwater vehicle
  • a clear concept that includes the open architectural principles that would allow a range of functions to be tested in future
  • clear milestones that show progress towards the seaworthy demonstration in Stage 1 and final demonstration in Stage 2

Funding Costs

The funding of £2.5 million is expected to fund 1 proposal.

If successful, the contract will be awarded for 12 months duration with a further 24 months for Stage 2 dependent on the success of the Stage 1 capability demonstrations.

The current limit of liability stands at £2.5m (£1m for Stage 1; £1.5m for Stage 2).

The agreement will have an upper limit of £4.5m, to allow for any further increases in funding made available – though this is not anticipated.

Any proposals received that are in excess of £2.5 million will automatically be deemed non-compliant.

Bids should include indicative examples of the trialling and testing that could be conducted at Stage 2 for £1.5m to allow comparative evaluation of the bids.


For this competition DASA are not interested in proposals that:

  • constitute consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews
  • do not offer significant benefit to this defence capability requirement
  • are an identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
  • offer demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no research and development (unless applied in a novel way to the challenge)
  • offer no real long-term prospect of integration into defence capabilities
  • offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
  • use manned, tethered, or constant active remote controlled technology or systems
  • involve building of new underwater vehicles from de novo designs (i.e. are not based on existing vehicles)


Further details on the competition, what your proposal should include, assessment criteria and how to apply can be found here.