UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has selected new high-tech concepts to investigate chemical or bio-hazards in the future, as part of a competition launched to create equipment in support of emergency services.

A pocket-sized drone and a mini-detector known as Snake Eyes are among the four winners that have been selected to further develop their concepts.

As part of a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office, a range of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-tech concepts were awarded funding to assess potentially hazardous scenes.

Fallon said: “With intensifying threats abroad and the risk of accidents at home, we need the very latest technology to respond to any incident.

“Competitions like this with our £800m Innovation Fund will ensure Britain has the latest in cutting-edge technology needed to help keep us safe.”

Built by Autonomous Devices, Snake Eyes relay 3D images of a space and can detect chemical agents. The Loughborough University-built pocket-sized drone can search for chemicals.

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“The government is able to collaborate with academics and the private sector to turn these innovative ideas into front-line tools.”

The other winners are BMT Defence Services’ unmanned aerial vehicle with high-tech gas-sensing technology and Horiba Mira’s robot with its own neural networks that can deploy on decontamination missions.

Worth over £1.6m, the awards came as part of the Autonomy in Hazardous Scene Assessment competition.

UK Minister for Security Ben Wallace said: “This competition has the potential to see world-class equipment created to support the emergency services when they arrive on the scene of an incident.

“Through this funding, the government is able to collaborate with academics and the private sector to turn these innovative ideas into front-line tools.”