The patrol commander scans the horizon. Since the enemy seized control of the region’s main supply route, her platoon has been running critically low on food, water and ammunition. She is about to report back when an unmanned ground vehicle and a quadcopter appear in the distance…
The Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has concluded phase one of its Autonomous Last Mile Resupply programme, which challenged industry and academia to design pioneering technology to deliver vital supplies to soldiers on the front line.
Among the entrants selected to participate in the programme was the TITAN autonomous ground vehicle, produced by QinetiQ in collaboration with Milrem, which showcased its capability at QinetiQ’s Hurn proving ground in February.
The exercise saw TITAN remotely tasked from a QinetiQ ground control station to autonomously navigate a route over mixed terrain, demonstrating its ability to deliver supplies to troops stationed in dangerous environments where access is limited.
The mission was documented in the short film above, released today.
Aberystwyth University took the opportunity to demonstrate its camera-based navigation system on TITAN. Integration was achieved in less than two days, demonstrating the pace and ease with which third-party solutions can be deployed on the platform.
In a separate exercise conducted as part the Autonomous Last Mile Resupply programme, QinetiQ partnered with Malloy Aeronautics to stage a demonstration of its Hoverbike unmanned aerial vehicle for delivery of frontline supplies by air.
Using the same QinetiQ ground control station deployed in the TITAN exercise, Malloy’s Hoverbike was tasked via a wireless link to deliver a 13kg payload by automatically navigating waypoints, avoiding predetermined no-fly zones and adapting its route mid-flight.
Building on the successes of Autonomous Last Mile Resupply phase one, QinetiQ’s Autonomy team is now turning its attention to further integration of multiple unmanned systems to engineer an ambitious end-to-end solution.
Dstl will announce the winning proposals for phase two of the Autonomous Last Mile Resupply programme in May 2018.