What is this? I've tweaked the photo a bit to remove the identifier under the name Talisman. Don't scroll down until you've had a hard think. And it's not a prop for the next James Bond film, or at least, not until the producers have seen it!
OK, so it looks like an E-type Jaguar 'absolutely on purpose' according to Andy Tonge, the project manager for the object in question, but BAE Systems has not gone into the car manufacturing business. If I tell you that Tonge told me that 'design rule number 1 was that it mustn't look like a torpedo and design rule number 2 was that it must not be yellow or orange,' you may get the hint.
Well, here is the untweaked photo:
Now you know, Talisman M (for mine-hunter) is an autonomous underwater vehicle using technology from the racing-car industry. Talisman M has a brand new little sister: Talisman L (for littoral) the prototype of which came out of its mould last Wednesday just in time for the Undersea Defence Technology Conference which opened in Cannes, France's Mediterranean resort town, today. 'We started designing this in early March,' Tonge told me and it was ready just in time for the show. Here it is with a hand in the photo to give you an idea of the size:
This one is portable by two people and was designed to be deployed from a rubber boat and used in shallow waters (it needs a minimum of 1m of water). 'This is for use in that moving boundary between defense and security,' Tonge told me.
photo credits: Christina Mackenzie"