> our title:

Drones, Robots to Support Future British Front-Line Ops

> original title:

Drones and Unmanned Robots to Support Future Front-Line Operations

(Source: British Forces News; issued July 20, 2018)

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is part of a collaboration working on drones and unmanned ground robots with autonomous ‘deliver to order’ capability.

The concepts have been submitted as part of the MoD's Innovation Autonomy Challenge which is in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The MoD believes the designs could support soldiers on the front line and solve the challenge of getting humanitarian aid into disaster zones.

Experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) are leading the partnership.

The competition is in its second phase and prototypes will be built for an initial demonstration later this year.

Four of the five contracters in the second round are British.

Concepts in the competition include autonomous hoverbikes, powered paragliders and other unmanned air vehicles, operating alongside self-driving ground vehicles to deliver supplies across difficult, and potentially contested, terrain.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “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.”

The hope is that the new technology will improve the pace of military operations.

UK Research and Innovation, which has also invested £1.2 million in the Last Mile Challenge, is funding the project under their Robots for a Safer World Challenge, as part of the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund.

The investment aims to support the development of new technologies for extreme and challenging environments, including nuclear energy, deep mining or space.