Going the last mile for autonomous resupply


The QinetiQ-led ‘Metis’ team has been announced a winner in the Autonomous Last Mile Resupply competition, in which entrants develop integrated autonomous systems capable of delivering supplies to dangerous and inaccessible locations.

Co-funded by the Department for International Development, Innovate UK and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the competition seeks innovative ways to expedite distribution of humanitarian relief to disaster areas and supplies to troops in the field.

The Metis team will provide an integrated, state-of-the-art system of autonomous vehicles and intelligent software to deliver supplies and aid where they are needed most:

The solution will reduce the risks associated with complex humanitarian resupply operations, where aid workers can be exposed to significant dangers. Using advanced autonomously-navigating air and land vehicles, aid missions can be conducted at greater speed, ensuring critical items – such as food, water, medicines and shelter – can reach those in need. It will also support troops on future military operations, saving lives by reducing risk and increasing the pace of operations.

The cognitive burden of planning and managing large supply inventories and distribution routes is reduced through the use of artificial intelligence enabled software, helping operators plan resupply missions in demanding environments quickly and safely.

The system operates within its own dedicated communications and data network, ensuring it can function even when local infrastructure is damaged or destroyed. Constructed around open architectures, it is designed for continual upgrade and improvement to enable new innovations, components or modifications to be rapidly accommodated and integrated.

The Metis team brings together an unrivalled range of industry and academic expertise. Partners include Aberystwyth University, Malloy Aeronautics, Milrem Robotics, University of Hull, Oxbotica, Roke Research, IQHQ and Air Drop Box.

The system is integrated and delivered by the QinetiQ Land Autonomy team, part of QinetiQ’s growing Research, Experimentation and Innovation organisation that develops and applies disruptive technology solutions to customers’ most difficult problems.

Early demonstration of the system will take place during field experiments later this year, allowing future users to explore the technology in real-world conditions and provide early feedback on its performance.

Visit the QinetiQ chalet at Farnborough Air Show 2018, where you can learn more about our work in autonomous systems and see Malloy’s Hoverbike – a vital component of the Metis project: