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British Army explores Amazon-style delivery model

27th January 2022 - 13:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The Viking autonomous vehicle from HORIBA-MIRA is involved in Project Theseus. (Photo: HORIBA-MIRA)

Autonomous systems could meet future 'last-mile' logistics requirements for the British Army, with developments ongoing under Project Theseus.

The UK MoD has issued contracts worth £3 million ($4 million) apiece to three SMEs for work on Project Theseus to develop autonomous solutions for supplying frontline British Army troops as an ‘Amazon-style delivery service’.

Having considered proposals from more than 50 companies, and following initial work by the Defence and Security Accelerator and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Future Capability Group (FCG) at MoD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) selected UK companies HORIBA-MIRA and Marlborough Comms, as well as Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

These three companies will ‘accelerate the development of their systems to try and meet further challenges set by FCG and the British Army’, DE&S noted in a 25 January announcement.

Project Theseus envisages the use of self-driving air or ground platforms to deliver supplies — including ammunition, clothes, food and fuel — thereby reducing the need for personnel to risk their life ‘by entering into what are typically hostile environments’, DE&S noted.

It added that the desired ultimate outcome will be an end-to-end highly automated ground and air resupply network, enabled by a logistic information system and operating as an ‘Amazon-style delivery service’.

Project Theseus has already seen the British Army explore the use of robotic “dogs” to navigate rough terrain, help deliver supplies in war zones and investigate potential IEDs.

Maj Matt McGarvey-Miles, SO2C Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Future Force Development, said: ‘Robotic and Autonomous System capabilities will play an increasing role in delivering deployed sustainment in the near-future; doing so will increase combat power through increasing mass and tempo of resupply… leading to an increased probability of mission success.’

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