Defense Update News:

Grand Challenge UK - 2008 Characterizing the Mission

Some of the concepts evaluated during the UK Grand Challenge competition focused on different combination of aerial and ground autonmous systems operated in synchronization and mutual support. Others focused on ground swarms, constellations and formations of ground vehicles or unmanned hoevring aerial vehicles. (more...)

Team members from Thales and the universities of Reading, Cranfield, Exeter and Loughborough and three schools from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) will use commercially available helicopters and two custom built ground vehicles equipped with audio, visual and thermal imaging sensors and laser range finder to detect potential threats. Photo: UK MOD


A hovering quadcopter developed by the I-Spy team for the UK Grand Challenge. Photo: MoD
UGV developed by the Mindsheet team being tested prior to the Grand Challenge UK. Photo: UK MoD.Patrolling in urban environments against an evolving and rapidly changing threat is an ongoing element of current operations for UK Armed Forces.
Recent developments in unmanned systems have seen a revolution in the way intelligence is collected and relayed to commanders. However, current in-service systems focus on long-range, high-flying operations providing a strategic surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

Recent advances in the technology, safety and flexibility of unmanned systems mean their great potential to assist short-range, reactive operations, such as urban patrols can be realistically considered. Such systems need to be operable by small numbers of troops at very short notice, with the minimal amount of user input. This requires the system to have a high degree of autonomy and to be effective it must have the capability to reliably identify threats to the troops and relay them quickly to the commander.

A combination of vehicles including a remote controlled UAV, a glider and two ‘Moonbuggy’ UGVs are being used by the Slicon Valley team for Grand Challenge 2008 UK. Photo: UK MoDCopehill Down Village is the largest fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA) training facility in Europe. The village is used for pre-deployment training for UK and Allied armed forces, providing troops with essential skills for urban operations. Built in 1986, Copehill Down resembles a small northern European town, complete with a church, school, hotel and bar. The site is approximately 350m by 450m. The village contains around 80 buildings and includes a more recently build section based on an Iraqi village.