Two contracts collectively worth £5m have been awarded to produce a number of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for the British Army. Project Theseus, the development and testing of autonomous logistic resupply systems, was announced by the Secretary of State (SofS) for Defence.
Five totally new autonomous land vehicle systems have been purchased by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), bringing the delivery of supplies to the front-line with efficiency and reduced risk another step closer to reality.
The contracts, which were awarded to to Horiba Mira and QinetiQ, form part of early work to increase the MOD’s understanding of the capabilities and limitations of these systems.
Brigadier Darrell Amison, head of capability for Combat Service Support said: “Robotic and autonomous systems will provide commanders with more options to support a land force operating at greater reach, dispersal and higher tempo.”
Summer 2020 will see the arrival of three all-terrain Viking 6×6 Unmanned Ground Vehicles which are capable of carrying up to 750kg of supplies to frontline troops using advanced AI-based autonomy with GPS-denied navigation.
Two Titan Unmanned Ground Systems will then arrive through autumn 2020; comprising a tracked system based around a modular mission system software architecture.
Testing will provide better understanding of the capabilities that these autonomous systems can provide and implications for their use in the wider defence system.
The vehicles will be used to conduct scientific and user trials in collaboration with the Combat Service Support Training and Development Unit (CSS TDU) based in Aldershot, and other British Army units.
Robert Mohacsi, senior commercial manager for Horiba Mira, said: “Autonomous systems present the British Army with game changing capabilities, redefining how we will conduct future operations. Building on more than a decade of experience in deploying autonomous technology into military applications, Horiba Mira has applied an agile and fast track approach that will enable the army to field this equipment and meet its critical objectives. We are immensely proud that Viking, with its market leading capability, has been selected to support this critical programme.”