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Autonomy on the Front Line: Supplying Armed Forces on the Battlefield


19 April 2017

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin challenges industry and academia to design autonomous systems that can resupply our front-line troops. 

As part of the MOD’s Innovation Initiative, £3m has been invested through the Defence and Security Accelerator in the next stage of the Innovation Autonomy Challenge. Focusing on the challenging “last mile” of support, this Challenge aims to find innovative new ways of resupplying troops on the front line, and will be led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

To reduce the risk to troops and improve efficiency, the UK aims to develop autonomous systems for unmanned delivery of combat supplies, drawing on the rapid progress of the private sector in the development of delivery drones and automated deliveries.

Funding will made available in two tranches, up to £1.5m to develop initial platforms and technology concepts. At least £1.5m more will then be released to build and test a smaller number of demonstrators, which can then be included in joint UK/US trials from October 2018.

The Challenge is the latest stage in Defence’s investment in unmanned and autonomous systems: In February, the Defence Secretary announced the launch of a two year £8m second phase of research and development with Leonardo Helicopters, exploring the future of unmanned air systems.

Source: MOD