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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-developing-the-royal-navys-autonomous-underwater-capability/competition-document-developing-the-royal-navys-autonomous-underwater-capability
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) multi-year themed competition seeks proposals to develop an autonomous version of an existing large underwater vehicle. This vehicle will be developed as a testing platform to understand the potential capabilities of an autonomous vehicle and is not designed to produce a commercial prototype.
The system will address the Royal Navy’s need to understand the utility and operational boundaries of an autonomously operating unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) system. The contract will have two stages, a research, design and re-fit stage and a testing and trialling stage. In the latter stage it is expected that the system will be tested in representative environments for extended periods; the sea trials in Stage 2 may be up to 2 years long. In particular we are looking for a flexible UUV capable of hosting different payloads / sensors which will be utilised in a range of testing scenarios. This range of tests will determine capability limits of a UUV, to assist in the development of future requirements and the design of future capabilities.
The total funding available for this competition is £1m for Stage 1 (research and development of an autonomous control system and re-fit of an existing manned submersible to implement this innovative autonomy); and a further £1.5m for Stage 2 (rent and testing of the novel autonomous functions of the submersible at a manufacturer-proposed operating base for up to 2 years). Tasking of Stage 2 is dependent on the success of the Stage 1 capability demonstrations.
The competition closes at midday (BST) on 11 June 2019.
2. Background to the competition
Defence has an enduring requirement for an increased presence within the underwater battlespace and is looking to address the lack of current options in order to increase the number of delivery ready platforms. To shape the understanding of current cutting edge capabilities, a strategy of exploration and analysis has been adopted to better inform capacity and requirements of ‘Maritime Autonomous System’ use for future Royal Navy operations.
Though it is possible to increase mere presence in the underwater battlespace with smaller, discrete, autonomous systems these cannot complete many of the operations currently undertaken by larger manned assets. These manned missions might include, but are not limited to: surveillance and reconnaissance, underwater data gathering, discrete payload delivery and recovery, and remote automated sense and warn capability. Therefore the combined future need is for a fully autonomous system of the size and capability of current manned systems.
Developing and testing the potential capability to deliver these future operational requirements is not possible with current Royal Navy assets and requires research and development of a larger more payload-flexible autonomous test system in partnership with commercial suppliers. It is envisaged that this will be achieved, for this competition, by re-fitting an existing large asset with an autonomous control system to develop a test-ready autonomous underwater vehicle.
Research and innovation in unmanned underwater vehicles and autonomy is sought to help inform the future utility and concept of operations of Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (XLUUVs); these future vehicles are expected to possess payload-agnostic spaces of >2m3 and 2 metric tonnes.
3. Competition Detail
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.
Development and testing of a system that can undertake these tasks autonomously will permit greater exploration of the utility of autonomous systems for underwater battlespace operations in the future. This novel autonomous system is intended to conduct capability testing of the autonomous systems; the actual UUV does not need to be designed as a commercially viable product or prototype for immediate procurement at the end of the contract.
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 (see vignette 3)
- provide flexible, accurate and timely covert intelligence gathering capability (see vignette 1)
- provide an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) barrier capability (see vignette 2)
The programme is broken down into two stages to allow a breakpoint. Total limit of liability currently stands at £2.5m (£1m for Stage 1, and £1.5m for Stage 2). Please note that an absolute upper limit of £4.5m will apply to the contract in case further funding becomes available).
Broadly, 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.
The MOD does not propose to own this test system at the end of the contract, but reserves the right to undertake further work and procurement through the framework agreement. As noted in Ministry of Defence Guidelines for Industry No. 10, rights for procurement specifications and user requirement documents are retained by the Authority in accordance with DEFCON 703.
4. Requirements and Deliverables
4.1 Stage 1 – 12 months maximum duration (Core)
- provision of an existing manned vehicle of suitable size that can be re-fitted in line with requirements
- the research and development required to create a novel, seaworthy, autonomous UUV, capable of completing short autonomy/seaworthiness demonstrations
- a >2m3 and 2 metric tonnes payload capacity and open architectural principles to permit sensor integration
- internal testing and trialling of the autonomous UUV in preparation for demonstration to Navy
- a proposed operating base (non-military) for initial seaworthiness and autonomy demonstrations, costed in accordance with the proposed manufacturer-led testing plan and the framework agreement
- a short, manufacturer-led, autonomy/seaworthiness demonstration
- an initial system design document specifying: systems design choices, technology solutions to be implemented at testing phase, expected performance, handling systems, planning tool, and limitations. The Authority retains rights for work on all Procurement Specifications and User Requirements Documentation in accordance with DEFCON 703
- a detailed manufacturer-led plan for proposed Stage 2 testing (following the requirements given in Section 6 of this document)
4.2 Stage 2 – 24 months maximum duration (Tasking)
- a proposed operating base (non-military) from which to conduct Stage 2 testing, a costed demonstration of the ability to adapt capability and change payload / sensor (payloads may be towed, deployed forward-, downward-, upward-, or side-looking). Note: some payloads / sensors may need to be isolated from the vehicle
- manufacturer-led testing that covers the requirements laid out in section 6 of this document, completed under the direction of Royal Navy and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)/MOD staff (examples are given in the vignettes detailed in section 9)
- an updated system design document and user requirement document. The Authority retains rights for work on all Procurement Specifications and User Requirements Documentation in accordance with DEFCON 703
- a detailed final report identifying the outputs of each trial, successes, limitations and how the system could be enhanced in future
4.3 Open architecture
The test system could have application for future UUV and UUV- system development. Proposals should include the open architecture required to permit integration of 3rd party systems (developer-agnostic) for operation of the vehicle and its payloads. This integration of third party sensors is unlikely to be part of the testing phase but its inclusion will strengthen the case for funding and for future exploitation of the test vehicle.
4.4 Clarification of what we want
Successful bids will aim to autonomously pilot an underwater vehicle capable of >3000 miles and >3 months deployment by the end of Stage 1. The system must be capable of piloting a UUV possessing internal capacity of >2m3 and 2 metric tonnes to house both payloads/sensors and operational equipment for system testing. The pilot system must be capable of informing future capability (as previously described). A plan for manufacturer-led Stage 2 testing of the utility of the system must also be included in the proposal.
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
4.5 Clarification of what we don’t want
For this competition we 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)
It is important that over the lifetime of DASA services, ideas are matured and accelerated towards appropriate end-users to enhance capability. How long this takes will be dependent on the nature and starting point of the innovation. For this competition you will be working closely with the Royal Navy, DASA and Dstl; however you may wish to consider which activities and potential future partners might help you develop this system towards a commercial product.
All proposals to DASA should articulate the expected development in maturity or Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the potential solution over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability against the current known (or presumed) baseline. Your deliverables should be designed to evidence these aspects with the aim of making it as easy as possible for potential collaborators to identify the innovative elements of your proposal in order to consider routes for exploitation. DASA Innovation Partners are available to support you with defence and security context. Further information on TRLs can be found on our website.
6. How to apply
Proposals for this challenge must be submitted by midday on 11 June 2019 via the DASA submission service, for which you will be required to register.
The funding of £2.5 million is expected to fund 1 proposal. Any proposals received that are in excess of £2.5 million will automatically be deemed non-compliant. 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.
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.
Stage 2 Tasking labour rates should be stated and will form an aspect of the assessment of Value for Money. As noted in our Terms and Conditions and Contract Guidance, we expect all quoted labour rates to be competitive in the market. If a bidder has previously agreed MOD rates, with the MOD Cost Assurance and Analysis Service (CAAS), they shouldn’t exceed those rates agreed with the MOD CAAS. In the case that labour rates have already been agreed with CAAS, proposals must be supported by evidence that these have not been exceeded. Although the funding limit is set at £2.5 million, suppliers are not required to bid to this maximum level. Appropriateness of the costs and value for money will be considered in the assessment of your bid.
6.1 What your proposal must include
The proposal should focus on the competition requirements but must also include a brief outline of potential exploitation paths.
When submitting a proposal, you must complete all sections of the online form, including an appropriate level of technical information to allow assessment of the bid and a completed finances section.
A project plan with clear milestones and deliverables must also be provided in line with Section 4 above. Deliverables must be well defined and designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan and the end-point for each Stage.
A resourcing plan must also be provided that identifies, where possible, the nationalities of those proposed Research Workers that you intend working on this phase. In the event of proposals being recommended for funding, the DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed Research Workers. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases.
You must identify any ethical / legal / regulatory factors within your proposal and how the associated risks will be managed, including break points in the project if approvals are not received. These risks must be approved by MODREC before work is undertaken; MODREC approvals can take up to 3 months and therefore you should plan your work programme accordingly. Further details are available in the DASA guidance. If you are unsure if your proposal will need to apply for MODREC approval, then please contact DASA for further guidance. In addition, requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (GFA) must be included in your proposal. DASA cannot guarantee that GFA requested will be available.
Completed proposals must comply with the expected financial limit for this competition which has an upper limit of £2.5m per proposal. Proposals will be rejected if the financial cost exceeds this capped level.
Proposals must include costed participation/completion of the following:
|Deliverable / Event||Event organised by: (if applicable)||Subject to:|
|Attendance at, and slides from a kick-off meeting to discuss and inform Stage 1||DASA||DEFCON705|
|Hosting of, minutes and slides from demonstration event(s) at the end of Stage 1 to prove sea worthiness, autonomy and compliance with Stage 1 requirements||Supplier||DEFCON705|
|Initial system design documentation from Stage 1 to allow for effective evaluation of the system design and identification of potential strengths, weaknesses and future vulnerabilities to inform capability decisions. It should include: systems design choices, technology solutions to be implemented during Stage 2, expected performance, handling systems, planning tool, limitations, open architecture definitions and interface documents||N/A||DEFCON703|
|Revised manufacturer-led testing plan for Stage 2 (developed during and informed by Stage 1 of the contract)||N/A||DEFCON705|
|Updated system design documentation in Stage 2||N/A||DEFCON703|
|User requirement documentation in Stage 2||N/A||DEFCON703|
|Quarterly progress reports and participation in quarterly review meetings throughout Stages 1 and 2||Supplier; 1 week post submission of quarterly report in Stage 1. Royal Navy or Dstl; where required under Tasking in Stage 2||DEFCON705|
|Attendance at, and slides from a kick off meeting to discuss and inform the Tasking process for Stage 2||DASA||DEFCON705|
|Participation in, minutes and slides from events required during Stage 2 in accordance with Royal Navy/Dstl/MOD requirements, as agreed at the end of Stage 1||Supplier||DEFCON705|
|Organisation of, minutes and slides from a final demonstration event at the end of Stage 2||Supplier||DEFCON705|
|Final report at the end of Stage 2||Supplier||DEFCON705|
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
Proposals must address how you would test the following during Stage 2:
- the ability to task, re-task, and abort remotely
- underwater operation for extended periods
- navigation and collision, and damage, avoidance
- how different sensor types can be incorporated and tested, for example: electro-optical (EO); electronic warfare (EW); communications electronic support measures (CESM); and acoustic or non-acoustic surveillance systems (i.e. credible long range anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
- potential for incorporation of secure sensor output recording
- potential for extending power needs by incorporation of additional power
- stealth potential, through low radiated acoustic signature properties during normal operations; it is acknowledged that short duration periods of noisier operation may be necessary for re-charging purposes
- manoeuvrability and speed
- covert communications (identify and warn capabilities)
- situational awareness
- linking up with other vessels
These tests are not required to occur simultaneously. You should make considerations for risk mitigation should these tests fail, as it is envisaged that they will be iterative rather than singular in nature and there is scope for minor modifications between tests. Further details and a re-worked testing plan must be included as a deliverable in Stage 1, prior to Stage 2 commencing.
6.2 Public facing information
A brief abstract will be requested if the proposal is funded. This will be used by DASA, and other government departments as appropriate, to describe the project and its intended outcomes and benefits. It will be used for inclusion at DASA events in relation to this competition and placed on the DASA website, along with your company information and generic contact details.
6.3 How your proposal will be assessed
All proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before full assessment if they do not comply. Only those proposals who demonstrate their compliance against the competition scope and DASA criteria will be taken forward to full assessment. Failure to achieve full compliance against the mandatory criteria will render your proposal non-compliant and will not be considered any further:
|Mandatory Criteria||Within scope (Pass) / Out of scope (Fail)|
|The proposal outlines how it meets the scope and deliverables (including events) of the competition.||Pass / Fail|
|The bidder accepts, in unqualified terms, the proposed DASA Terms and Conditions of Contract||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal fully explains in all sections of the DASA submission service how it meets the DASA criteria||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal clearly details a financial plan, a project plan, and a resourcing plan to complete the work proposed in Stage 1; including a demonstration of seaworthiness and autonomy at the end of Stage 1||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal demonstrates how the supplier would meet the requirements of the end of Stage 1 demonstration and produce a report detailing success/failures in the demonstration. This must consider risk, liabilities (insurances held),and suitability of testing environment||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal clearly details how you will create a financial plan, project plan, and a resourcing plan to complete any tasks placed under Stage 2||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal includes a manufacturer-led testing plan for Stage 2 (starting at least 1 month after the end of Stage 1) and identifies an operating base (non-military). This plan must consider risk, liabilities (insurances held),and suitability of testing environment||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal includes underwater payload / sensor deployment and recovery capability by the end of Stage 2||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal identifies the need (or not) for MODREC approval||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal identifies any Government Furnished Assets required||Pass / Fail|
|Maximum value of proposal is £1m for Stage 1; with a proposed plan for Stage 2 that does not exceed £1.5m||Pass / Fail|
Proposals will then be assessed against the standard DASA assessment criteria by subject matter experts from the MOD (including Dstl), other government departments and front-line military commands.
You will not have the opportunity to respond to assessors comments.
DASA reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from bidders during the procurement process (including information identified by the bidder as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by DASA for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the bidder’s proposal. In providing such information the bidder consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
Further guidance on how your proposal is assessed is available on the DASA website.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
6.4 Things you should know about DASA contracts
Please read the attached proposed DASA terms and conditions for this competition which contain important information for suppliers. For this competition we will be using a bespoke contract.
Funded projects will be allocated a Technical Partner as a technical point of contact. In addition, the DASA team will work with you to support delivery and exploitation.
We will use deliverables from DASA contracts in accordance with our rights detailed in the contract terms and conditions.
|Dial-in group information session||1300 to 1500, 14 May 2019|
|Collaboration event and pre-bookable 1-1 sessions||1000 to 1600, 21 May 2019|
|Competition closes||Midday BST, 11 June 2019|
|Contract||Aim to start 01 August 2019|
Competition queries including on process, application, technical, commercial and intellectual property aspects should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the competition title. While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential suppliers.
9. Vignettes of possible testing methodologies
In all vignettes below, the XLUUV must be capable of leaving harbour, transiting to or from an operational/holding location, and returning to harbour autonomously (including changes in speed, direction, velocity and attitude).
9.1 Vignette 1 - Covert intelligence gathering
In this scenario, an XLUUV is tasked to gather covert intelligence of traffic transiting in a maritime operational area. The XLUUV leaves its dock and autonomously, and covertly, transits underwater to the maritime operational area. It positions in the operational area either at or below periscope depth, and monitors traffic for up to 3 months; above water electronic, underwater acoustic and optical intelligence gathering using a range of sensors. It may position on the sea floor and release a tethered sensor to periscope depth that would then be recovered before returning to periscope depth. During this period a reportable incident occurs, in this case the passing of a vessel of interest, whereby the XLUUV reports the incident to control and continues monitoring.
9.2 Vignette 2 – Anti-submarine warfare barriers
In this scenario, an XLUUV is tasked with enacting an anti-submarine barrier in a particular location. The XLUUV leaves its dock in the harbour and autonomously, and covertly, transits underwater to the checkpoint. Upon reaching the checkpoint, the XLUUV proceeds to patrol a pre-determined area for up to 3 months. During this period it encounters (recognises the acoustic signature of) a target of interest, and identifies it as hostile. Upon identification, it covertly reports the incident to control, before returning to station and continuing the patrol. Alternatively, upon reporting the incident to control, the XLUUV could be re-tasked.
9.3 Vignette 3 - Deploy & Recover
In this scenario an XLUUV is tasked with covertly deploying a sensor payload to the seabed and recovering it at a later date. The XLUUV leaves harbour and autonomously, and covertly, transits to just outside the operational area, rising to periscope depth to await signal. A ‘go code’ is transmitted from control; the XLUUV dives to operation depth and transits to operational area before dropping the payload on the seabed. The XLUUV exits the operational area, rises to periscope depth, and transmits a ‘complete code’ before autonomously, and covertly, returning to harbour or holding area. At a later date, an XLUUV is tasked with covertly recovering the sensor payload from the seabed.