Rise Of The Machines: Unmanned Vehicles Go Head-To Head
Salisbury, UK: - Hunting down modern day security threats including a sniper, an armed vehicle, an improvised explosive device and a cell of armed terrorists are the focus of a new project involving BAE Systems, automotive design, development and certification consultancy MIRA and other partners from UK industry and academia.
Designed to replicate the real situational awareness problems faced by the armed forces today, the project forms a part of the 2008 UK MoD Grand Challenge, science and technology competition.
BAE Systems is supporting an entry led by automotive design, development and certification agency MIRA, sharing its expertise in sense and avoidance technologies.
BAE Systems, MIRA, GFS Projects, ERA Technology which is part of the Avionics and Surveillance Division of Cobham plc, Warwick University and the Royal Grammar School Guildford are working in partnership to develop a three pronged approach to the Challenge, which will take place at the specialist Fighting in Built up Areas (FIBUA) range in Wiltshire.
Using an autonomous ground vehicle, a remotely piloted unmanned air vehicle and a tethered miniature blimp the MIRA team will scan Copehill Down for four targets: a sniper, an armed vehicle, an improvised explosive device and a group of hostile soldiers.
“The challenge facing us is pretty realistic in terms of the difficulties soldiers are facing in the battlefield today. What we needed was a system that could look high and low and present as complete a picture of the environment as possible,” explains MIRA team leader Chris Mellors. “Combining the autonomous ground vehicle with the small UAV and the blimp has enabled us to do just that and we are very confident that the technologies we’ve used will meet the demands of the challenge”.
Commenting on BAE Systems involvement in the team Professor Andy Wright, one of the company’s experts in autonomous technologies, said:
“We have a long standing relationship with MIRA, which has been instrumental in helping us develop and test autonomous technologies effectively. We are extremely pleased to be supporting their Grand Challenge entry and believe the team has devised an elegant solution capable of performing well at Copehill Down”.
Team MIRA was one of six teams to receive MOD backing and automatic entry into the competition. The Grand Challenge ends on August 19th and the winning team will be awarded the R J Mitchell Trophy, named after the father of the Spitfire WWII fighter plane. There is also potential for a follow-on contract to conduct further proving tests against MoD requirements.
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