Cranfield rises to robot challenge

Cranfield University is participating in the MOD’s ‘Grand Challenge’ to develop autonomous military robots

CranfieldUniversity is at the heart of a team taking the MOD’s ‘Grand Challenge’ to develop an autonomous robot to scan for, identify and report military threats in an urban environment.

Cranfield will join ‘Team Stellar.’ Other members include local technology firms Blue Bear Systems Research from Bedford and Luton-based Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems, plus Marshall SV, Stellar Research and TRW Conekt.

The team has 12 months to produce their proposed system comprising of two unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). Next summer, the robots will be judged on tackling four common threats including a roadside 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 create computer-based software for automatic target recognition. The Guidance and Control Group based at Shrivenham will work to co-ordinate vehicle guidance and execution.

Blue Bear Systems Research Limited 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 be leading project management, while Marshall SV will provide the UGV, and TRW Conekt will be providing headway, obstacle and threat sensors for the UGV.