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System Survey is a core feature of Stellaris. It allows my glorious Empire to extend its frontiers and find new forms of life to discover and resources to exploit.

But after a few decades, I find that I spend most of my time assigning new targets to my Science Ships, or forget to give them a new system to explore after they finish their assignment.

Is there a way to set my ship in an automated Survey mode, where they will automatically go to a new system when their assignment is done? Or at least, give them a queue of system to survey so I can send them on a round around my border and focus on other tasks while they scan?

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There is a Feature called Automatic Exploration that is unlocked by the Physics Technology Automated Exploration Protocols. This will allow your Science Ships to explore the galaxy while controlled by AI (though it will still need a scientist, as I recall). It also increases your surveying speed by 25%.

The only prerequisite for this technology to appear in your Physics tech choices is that the current game year be 2210 or later. Here is what it looks like in-game:

Automated Exploration Protocols technology screenshot

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    There are multiple mods that allow automated surveying from the start, such as this one. Of course, any mods will disable achievements if you wanted those. – Shadur Feb 25 '18 at 10:30
  • @Shadur Yep, that kind of mod has been a must-have for a lot of players since release. Only reason I did not include anything about mods in my answer is because OP didn't include the mods tag. – TylerH Feb 25 '18 at 23:47
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You can queue orders.

This can be applied to any order, holding SHIFT when assigning orders will put them in a queue. I don't think there is a way to automate the process entirely but stacking them in a queue will help. The only problem with this is if there are any hostile forces the queue will be disrupted and won't continue until you re-assign. One good thing about the system is that if there are any anomalies you can research them and it won't break the queue it will just place it at the top to be done first and then continue.

I will take a look at home tonight if there is any method of automation and update this if I find a solution.

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    One way to dodge the hostile forces issue is to set the behavior to passive, but that just means they'll ignore the hostiles and keep scanning until they're destroyed. If there's some way to remove only the top system from the queue that would be awesome – Robert Wertz May 10 '16 at 20:28

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