Cross-government collaboration to turn autonomous designs into reality

23 July 2018 (Last Updated July 23rd, 2018 12:13)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), Department for International Development (DFID) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have entered a cross-government collaboration to transform modern drones and robots designs into reality.

Cross-government collaboration to turn autonomous designs into reality
An unmanned air vehicle. Credit: Banard Dynamics copyright.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), Department for International Development (DFID) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have entered a cross-government collaboration to transform modern drones and robots designs into reality.

Led by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) experts, the collaboration is part of the MoD’s Innovation Autonomy Challenge, a joint competition funded by MoD, DFID and UKRI being placed through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

Under the second phase of the competition, worth £3.8m over the next 12 months, the partnership will focus on developing prototypes for initial demonstration this year.

The winning concepts included in the competition are autonomous hoverbikes, powered paragliders and other unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), operating alongside self-driving ground vehicles to deliver supplies across contested environment.

“This Autonomous Last Mile competition has seen next-generation concepts from unmanned hoverbikes to powered paragliders come to life.”

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Defence makes an unrivalled investment in science and technology, creating thousands of highly skilled jobs and brilliant career opportunities, generating billions for the UK economy.

“This Autonomous Last Mile competition has seen next-generation concepts from unmanned hoverbikes to powered paragliders come to life.

“And they could be saving troops’ lives on the battlefield in years to come. I congratulate all those involved in the competition as they ensure our military remain ahead of our adversaries.”

Five companies have been selected for the second phase of the Innovation Autonomy Challenge to develop prototypes systems for carrying out initial testing and evaluation during autumn this year.

The five selected firms are Animal Dynamics, Barnard Microsystems, Fleetonomy, HORIBA MIRA and Qinetiq.