Cranfield University researchers have been chosen as part of a team for the MOD’s first “Grand Challenge” – a national competition to design an autonomous robot that can identify, monitor and report military threats in urban areas.
“Team Stellar” combines both local technology firms, Blue Bear Systems Research (Bedford) and Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems (Luton), and Cranfield University academics in a wider partnership with Marshall SV, Stellar Research and TRW Conekt.
The team has just 12 months to carry out an ambitious task to produce their system, which will be comprised of two unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).
Next summer, at Copehill Down training facility in Wiltshire, the robots will be judged on tackling four common threats including a road-side bomb, marksman from a window, a group of armed military personnel, and an armed vehicle with a rocket launcher.
Cranfield’s Applied Mathematics and Computing Group will focus on creating computer-based software for automatic target recognition, while the Guidance and Control Group at Cranfield University in Shrivenham will work on the vehicle guidance system.
Blue Bear Systems Research are designing both UAV systems and their associated control and avionics systems, and Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems are involved with overall system integration and development of the project’s ground control station.
Stellar Research Services will project manage the development, while Marshall SV will provide the UGV. TRW Conekt will be providing headway, obstacle and threat sensors for the UGV.
The winning entry will be awarded a trophy named after R J Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire.
The MOD has said it may fund development of the winning technology.