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Britain's Royal Navy tests speedy drone boat (pictures)

London's iconic Tower Bridge opened for the MAST unmanned craft's jaunt along the river Thames.

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Richard Trenholm

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1 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

London's historic Tower Bridge opens for the Royal Navy's Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) on Monday. MAST is an unmanned surface vessel designed to test the equipment that will go into drone craft of the future.

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2 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

The 32-foot (9-meter) vessel is based on the high-speed Bladerunner hull, which lifts a boat partway out of the water for a more efficient ride.

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3 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

The MAST vehicle is meant to be unmanned, but for this preview, pilots were aboard just in case.

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4 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

MAST is escorted by an HMS Archer during a preview for the press and public on the River Thames.

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5 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

MAST will test radar, GPS and other information, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology.

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6 of 6 POA(Phot) Owen Cooban, © MOD Crown copyright 2016

The unmanned vessel whizzes past Britain's Houses of Parliament during a test ride on Monday. The Royal Navy would not, however, reveal the craft's maximum speed.

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