Apply for a share of up to £2 million to develop technologies to broaden the environmental and performance envelope of unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems.
Award: Share of up to £2 million
Opens: 14th Aug 2019
Closes: 10th Oct 2019
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that can provide a step change in the capability of unmanned autonomous military systems to operate in challenging environments.
This call is funded through the MOD’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s Research Programme’s Autonomy Incubator project that aims to: identify and develop underpinning research and technologies to support the development and fielding of unmanned systems across defence which may be matured through the Autonomy and other research and development programmes.
Unmanned, autonomous and semi-autonomous systems have potential applications across many military capability areas and civilian operations and are expected to be increasingly deployed by the UK Armed Forces over the next few decades. Many autonomous systems have been developed and optimised in ideal conditions. However, future military operations are anticipated to be in environments that are challenging both from a physical and electromagnetic (EM) perspective, affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of current autonomy technologies. Consequently, there is a need for technologies to enhance the performance of autonomous systems in challenging environments to support future military operations.
The total funding available for this Phase 1 competition is £2 million, but individual proposals cannot exceed £100k.
If successful, contracts will be awarded for a duration of 6 months.
Phase 1 aims to understand the feasibility, impact and military application of the innovation; for potential further development in Phase 2.
Additional funding is expected to be available for further phases. Please note any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted Phase 1 successful bids.
This competition is seeking technologies to broaden the environmental and performance envelope of unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems to include:
The challenging environmental conditions within scope are:
Any solutions proposed must not erode the core benefits of the existing unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems which include:
Proposals must address one or more of the following three challenge areas associated with the unmanned systems and environmental conditions –
Challenge 1: perception and situational awareness
This challenge seeks technologies to establish and maintain local situational and self-awareness of unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems in adverse environmental conditions or across a spectrum of variable conditions. This requires that the system has the ability to sense, interpret, and understand its local environment, and then respond autonomously to that understanding appropriately.
Areas of interest include:
This challenge is not just about better sensors, it is about situational / self-awareness, and therefore any sensor-based solutions should come with the requisite processing to demonstrate the required capability enhancement.
Challenge 2: mobility
There is an aspiration to maintain the freedom of mobility of autonomous systems as conditions deteriorate, particularly in dynamic, uncertain and cluttered environments. This challenge seeks solutions that will allow autonomous and semi-autonomous platforms to withstand the effects of challenging environmental conditions throughout their missions.
DASA are interested in innovative technologies which address this, such as anisotropic materials applications, soft robotics, embodied artificial intelligence (AI) or other novel methods to increase autonomous systems’ ability to respond or adapt to environmental challenges. Priority will be given to technologies that support the benefits and priorities identified in the scope. This challenge also facilitates the application of Challenge 1 technologies to maintain mobility.
Challenge 3: maintaining effective human-machine partnerships
At the core of future military advantage will be the effective integration of humans, AI and robotics into military systems – human-machine teams. Except for UUVs, research concepts for autonomous and semi-autonomous systems have relied on the ability to maintain constant communication between the human operator and the unmanned platform. During operations in the challenging environments described, maintaining effective human-machine teams is a difficult when communications are not always guaranteed.
This challenge seeks proposals that address human-machine teaming when the ability to communicate with the unmanned systems is limited, fleeting or not at all possible for extended periods.
Areas of interest include: