The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has awarded £2.5m to a consortium led by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd to develop drone swarm technology.
The Ministry of Defence say that a swarm could support lower operating costs, greater system efficiency as well as increased resilience in the following areas:
- Situational awareness
- Medical assistance
- Logistics resupply
- Explosive ordnance detection and disposal
- Confusion and deception
Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said:
“The MOD continues to invest in pioneering technology that enhances capability, reduces risk to personnel and enables us to better perform our tasks. Drone swarm technology can revolutionise how we conduct intelligence gathering, humanitarian aid, disposal of explosives and supply our troops on the battlefield.”
Head of DASA Lucy Mason said:
“I am delighted that defence funding has enabled the creation of a collaboration from across industry sectors that will evaluate the latest thinking in swarming drone systems. We are committed to driving innovation through creating partnerships and collaboration, harnessing the best ideas and innovative thinking for UK defence and security.”
According to a news release:
“Currently, operational systems require one or more operators to pilot the aircraft or to closely manage the flight mission. This is manpower intensive and consumes time and resource to train operators.
The UK Armed Forces are actively seeking robotic solutions to provide a ‘Force-Multiplier’ effect whereby a greater military capability is delivered by fewer people and equipment. The swarm system is one possible solution to this multiple domain requirement as it will cover larger areas of battlespace more quickly at lower cost and reduced man hours. It also removes the operator from potentially harmful situations.
The future project phase will seek to establish a more ‘self-sufficient’ UAS swarm, providing the military with the ability to operate in increasingly complex and contested environments. Effective Human Machine Teaming will remain at the core of this research to ensure that the human remains firmly in control of the system.”