Unmanned Warrior media day

With a six-week demonstration spread over hundreds of miles of ocean and coast using three bases, it is probably no surprise that a press conference would be held in two places simultaneously!

Our show was put on in two centres: BUTEC, the underwater test centre in the Kyle of Lochalsh, temporary home to the Unmanned Warrior minehunting teams, and a presentation facility in the Science Park on Portsdown Hill above Portsmouth. 

Around sixty journalists came, some carrying tiny cameras attached to lenses almost taller than themselves, others supported by news crews with equipment on spidery tripods, others sat alone with note pads or laptops.

In Scotland, predictably, the Scottish media were present in strength, plus one or two stringers from further afield. Down south were, well, those who were down south.  

Rear Admiral Paul Bennett, who leads for the Navy on looking at future systems, opened from the podium in Scotland, welcoming both home and away teams then passing matters smartly over to Unmanned Warrior active leads Commanders Peter Pipkin and Mark Savage, and Bill Biggs from QinetiQ, for an in depth presentation with Captain Gabby Creighton USN.  

Unmanned Warriors have grown very passionate about their systems in recent months and once the assembled fourth estate were released to ‘let us look at the robots’ the camera lights went on. 

Down south in Portsmouth the floor was held by Captain Sharon Malkin, the RN’s lead for innovation.   

In case you don't yet know Peter Pipkin, Fleet Robotics Officer, I think you soon will.

The long, and mainly orderly, queue which formed up to interview him after the formal presentation was an indication of the underlying interest in what he had been saying. 

And the direct way he had said it. Maybe we are seeing the genesis of a new media personality.

The man is not a robot, but after the sixth interview conducted on a windy Kyle dock side…

"Now, Commander, please look at me and not at the camera, can you tell me briefly what the navy is doing here with robots?" you might have had some sympathy if he’d said he wanted to be replaced by one.