UK invests in UAS swarm technology
The UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator has awarded a £2.5 million contract to a Blue Bear Systems Research-led consortium to develop UAS swarm technology.
Acting as the system integrator for the project, Blue Bear Systems Research will lead a team consisting of IQHQ, Plextex, Airbus and the University of Durham on an 18-month integration concept evaluation phase, which will culminate in live flight demonstrations to the military.
UAS swarm capabilities could offer a force-multiplier effect whereby a greater military capability is delivered by fewer people and equipment, allowing greater areas of the battlespace to be covered more quickly. The technology has applications in areas including situational awareness, medical assistance, logistics resupply, explosive ordnance detection and disposal, and confusion and deception.
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. During the project, the team will deploy next generation autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence 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 will enable complex swarm-based missions against single or multiple targets in a time sensitive manner.
Future phases 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.
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