UK commits £66m funding to boost military robotic projects

6 March 2019 (Last Updated March 6th, 2019 14:12)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has allocated £66m in funding to accelerate robotic projects for the British Army.

UK commits £66m funding to boost military robotic projects
A British soldier readying to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle. Credit: Crown copyright.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has allocated £66m in funding to accelerate robotic projects for the British Army.

Set out by UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, the new grant is part of MoD’s new £160m transformation fund.

The British Army will soon benefit from equipment for robotic projects such as new mini-drones, autonomous logistics vehicles and systems with remote control capability for use on combat vehicles.

Lighter and smaller drones will provide soldiers with enhanced situational awareness on the battlefield.

New systems set to be installed on army vehicles will safeguard troops from being harmed while gaining a better understanding of enemy defences before deploying manned vehicles.

Autonomous logistics vehicles will support the distribution of important supplies in conflict zones. They will also assist in removing troops from hazardous resupply tasks to help them focus on combat roles.

“One of the first brigades to receive the equipment will be 16 Air Assault Brigade, Colchester, a brigade specifically trained to deploy by helicopter, parachute and air landing.”

Speaking at the Autonomous Warrior Exploitation Conference at the Science Museum in Kensington, UK, Williamson said: “Each of these new technologies will enhance our army’s capabilities whilst reducing the risk to our personnel and I’m delighted we will be revolutionising frontline technology by the end of the year.

“The MoD has always embraced pioneering technology and this fund will ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global military capabilities and ahead of our adversaries.”

The new systems will be fielded later this year to support missions in countries such as Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the first brigades to receive the equipment will be 16 Air Assault Brigade, Colchester, a brigade specifically trained to deploy by helicopter, parachute and air landing. The new technology will increase their safety and combat efficiency.

Furthermore, £340m in funding would be made accessible as part of the spending review.

Last year, the army tested various projects involving drones during Exercise Autonomous Warrior, one of the biggest military robot exercises in British history.