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 ‘Many Drones Make Light Work’ project is the largest single contract awarded by DASA to date.
The funding will steer the project for around 20 UAS into the final stage of development, which will ultimately be managed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
DASA hopes a swarm will support lower operating costs, greater system efficiency as well as increased resilience in the following areas: situational awareness, medical assistance, logistics resupply, explosive ordinance detection and disposal and confusion and deception.
Lucy Mason, head of DASA, said: “Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, a world leader in autonomous system solutions, will act as the consortia lead and system integrator, with IQHQ, Plextex, Airbus and the University of Durham as part of the contracted team. Each organisation brings a crucial technology and skill set to the team in this 18-month ‘integration concept evaluation’ phase which will culminate in live flight demonstrations to the military.”
Ian Williams-Wynn, managing director at Blue Bear Systems, said: “The ability to deploy a swarm of low-cost autonomous systems delivers a new paradigm for battlefield operations.
“During this project, we will deploy next generation autonomy, machine learning, and AI to reduce the number of operators required, the time it takes to train them, and the cognitive burden on any operator during active operations. This allows very complex swarm-based missions to be performed simultaneously against single or multiple targets in a time-sensitive and highly effective manner.”