Thales is investing in two new facilities in the U.K. dedicated to testing and training of autonomous systems. One will be based in West Wales and the other in South-West England.
The company is investing a total of £7 million ($9.2 million) across the two regions, which will sustain around 60 jobs in the local areas.
“Investing in these facilities enables the safe test, evaluation and training of autonomous platforms, innovative research and development, as well as the regulations for military and civil applications. These facilities will be central to the growth of Thales’s future autonomous capability,” said CEO of Thales U.K. Victor Chavez.
This new endeavor comes off the heels from Thales’s successful trails during the British Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior Exercise in 2016. That exercise sought to explore and demonstrate the use of unmanned systems, including air, surface and sub-surface vehicles and sensors.
The new £1 million facility in Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth will host Thales’s maritime trials and training. The company’s five-year commitment there will secure 20 jobs, taking advantage of the waterfront. The facility will become a key maritime test, evaluation and integration center for the combined United Kingdom and French Maritime Mine Counter Measures Program.
Another £6 million is being placed in the West Wales facility over the next two years. Over the past ten years, £10 million has already been invested into the airport and local economy while Thales and the Ministry of Defence have tested and developed Europe’s largest UAS program, Watchkeeper.
In addition, Thales has also signed a five-year agreement with the West Wales Airport to continue the Watchkeeper program