Ever since the first Autosub trial in 1996, NERC has continued to invest in the providing the UK science community with access to a world leading Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS) capability. This has included developing bespoke vehicles for science missions such as the Autosub Long Range vehicle 'Boaty McBoatface' to complement a growing fleet of commercial platforms. One way to address the under-sampling of the ocean is through the scaling-up of a MAS capability that works seamlessly alongside ship and satellite technologies. The FMRI programme is exploring the potential of networked autonomous platforms to provide continuous monitoring of the world's ocean and enable new and different science.

One way to address the under-sampling of the ocean is through the scaling up of Marine Autonomous Systems if we can develop the sensors required to address the twin-challenges of precision and accuracy.

Workstream Objectives

During the business case development phase, the objectives of the FMRI MAS Technologies workstream are to:

  • Present specific options for MAS solutions that meet the needs of the scientific community as set out in the Science Requirements Framework and the FMRI Critical Success Factors and Spend Objectives.
  • Develop understanding of the potential and limitations of MAS to fulfil science requirements in order to inform the decision on what infrastructure to build.
  • Build science user confidence in the scientific capabilities of MAS to develop a positively engaged user community who can be champions for these technologies.
  • Enhance the current NMEP MAS infrastructure to provide capabilities that can mitigate the risk of a capability gap during any transition.
  • Prime sensor technology developments, focusing on the rapid prototyping and early adoption of sensor innovation, to demonstrate the viability of a MAS option.
  • Understand and help to shape the regulatory environment for use of MAS for Marine Scientific Research.

Workstream Lead: Lead Engineer


The global ocean is and will remain severely under-sampled unless we change the way we interact with it. Autonomy offers a realistic route to alter and enhance our approach.

NOC Association / Challenger Society Upscaling Autonomy Working Group Report


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Useful Resources

This joint report by the NOC Association and Challenger Society summarises a consultation with the marine science community on the upscaling of the UK’s autonomous research fleet.

This report summarises the outcomes of the Future Marine Autonomous Systems work package of the Net-Zero Oceanographic Capability scoping study.

This report summarises the outcomes of workshops examining the transformation in sensors and instrumentation that is needed to build the future research infrastructure.