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The Group 1 Teams funded by the MoD
Barnard Microsystems Team
Barnard Microsystems Limited
They are offering a system based on the use of Unmanned Helicopters. More
information on the work performed is to be found on this web site.
Barnard Microsystems, for example, plans to adapt an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle it
has designed to survey oil pipelines in remote areas. - from
ERA Technologies Limited
BAE Systems ATC
GFS Projects Limited
University of Warwick
Royal Grammar Guildford School 6th Form
They are offering a land based platform carrying mainly optical sensors with a
tethered aerial camera for situational awareness.
GFS enters new flying-saucer UAV in UK MoD's Grand Challenge
8 February 2008
is to participate in the
UK Ministry of Defence's Grand Challenge competition
in August using a new 800 mm diameter Coanda-effect vertical take-off and
landing unmanned air vehicle that will co-operate with a robotic ground vehicle.
The UAV will have a carbonfibre structure provided by the UK
composites specialist Lola Group
, a two-stroke engine running on an oil/petrol mix and a maximum take-off weight
of 18.5 kg. Payload capacity is 4 kg and maximum fuel load 2.5 kg. Test flights
are expected at the end of April.
"We are working with
[product engineering specialist] MIRA
on the MoD's Grand Challenge and we are talking to a raft of people about
investment. We have completed the first contract with the [US military]," says
GFS founder Geoff Hatton. MIRA will provide the robotic ground vehicle for the
challenge and Hatton is meeting with the US military to discuss a possible
Air blown over the curved surface of the saucer-shaped vehicle generates lift as
a result of the
. Gust response is still an issue, Hatton says, and its resolution is linked
closely to the vehicle's mass. The heavier the UAV, the more effective its gust
Silicon Valley Team
Silicon ValleySystems Limited
Bruton School for Girls
They are offering a combination of fixed, ground and air platforms with optical,
laser range finder and acoustic sensors.
A third team,
, has opted to rely less heavily on autonomous vehicles. They have used
off-the-shelf technology for the hardware as much as possible, and focused more
development onto image recognition and analysis software.
"If you can automate that part, then you have a useful tool," explains team
leader, Norman Gregory. "What we intend to do is deploy various platforms,
depending on what the scenario is."
The team will use a mixture of ground and air-based vehicles, although the team
is not yet releasing the exact details. The main ground vehicle is the size of a
ride-on lawnmower and can be GPS-guided or remotely directed by a human.
Stellar Services Limited
Blue Bear Systems Limited
SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems Limited
Marshall Specialist Vehicles
They are offering SATURN: an integrated system with a high level and a
micro-Unmanned Air Vehicle, an Unmanned Ground Vehicle and a control station,
fusing data from visual, thermal and radar sensors.
"The platforms have got autonomous threat detection sensors on them based on
visual, thermal and radar," explained Dr Julia Richardson, head of the Team.
Others, such as Team Stellar has proposed a multiple vehicle approach. Its
Saturn (Sensing and Autonomous Tactical Reconnaissance Network) proposal
consists of two different UAVs and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).
Cranfield’s input to ‘Team Stellar’ will involve the Applied Mathematics and
Computing Group focusing on creating computer based software for automatic
target recognition. The Guidance and Control Group at Cranfield University,
Shrivenham, will be working to co-ordinate vehicle guidance and execution.
Blue Bear Systems Research Limited are designing both UAV systems and their
associated control and avionics systems, and Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems
are involved with overall system integration and development of the project’s
ground control station.
Stellar Research Services will be leading project management, while Marshall SV
will provide the UGV, and TRW Conekt will be providing headway, obstacle and
threat sensors for the UGV.
TRW Conekt will be providing specialist headway, obstacle and threat sensors for
the UGV (provided by Marshalls Specialist Vehicles), combining its skills from
the Automotive, Defence & Aerospace Industries.
Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) persistence in the urban environment
This project is the third MAV project awarded to BBSR, supported by the Research
Acquisition Organisation, UK MOD. The work uses our rapid prototyping approach
to design, integrate and flight test new and emerging technologies in the
flight control algorithms and flight control modes
flight and surveillance sensors
One funded team, the
, uses two aerial robots and one ground-based one.
A 3m wing-span unmanned air vehicle (UAV) will fly 65 metres above the village
and use cameras to gather wide-area surveillance used by software to direct a
smaller, 1m UAV flying at 20 metres, and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), (see
image, middle right).
Those two vehicles use thermal, visual, and radar sensors to make more detailed
observations that can be reported back to the base station.
"Physically, the vehicles all have to be launched by someone," explains Julia
Richardson, Director of Stellar Research, "but after that, the mission-planning
software hosted at the ground station takes full control."
Photographs taken at the Grand Challenge All Teams Briefing on the 30th April
Swarm Systems Team
Swarm Systems Limited
Park Technical Services
The University of Essex
The University of Surrey
They are offering Owl: a lightweight, quadrotor, Unmanned Air Vehicle with
three, high-resolution, still colour cameras.
Its proposal consists of eight to 10 "dinner-plate sized" quad-rotor helicopters
which would be able to fly in and out of buildings. "There is only so much
information you can capture from one vehicle," Stephen Crampton, the head of the
Team, told the BBC News website. Equipped with high-resolution cameras, the
swarm will use numbers to its advantage. "You can get images from different
points of view, which is often very important because something you can see from
one angle, you can't from another," said Dr Owen Holland, another member of the
A team called
uses more robots. "We need to gather as much sensory information as possible,"
says team leader Stephen Crampton, "so we're using eight vehicles. And we're
going by air because it gives you more viewing angles."
Dubbed "Owls", their battery-powered, Frisbee-sized vehicles weigh under a
kilogram and have four small propellers (see image, right). Able to hover and
dart like birds, they are GPS-guided and communicate with one another, and the
base station, using Wi-Fi. Each Owl carries a trio of 5 megapixel cameras.
"Without giving too much away, the processing power on board each of these
vehicles is pretty impressive," adds Crampton. "They could run full-blown
The University of Manchester
They are offering a small UAV with stabilised electro-optical sensor system.
"Flying ball uses feature-tracking software to identify threats."
The Group 2 Teams have elected to use their own funding to support their entry
in the Grand Challenge.
They are offering Tiger: a multiple platform UAV concept that uses an array of
multi-spectral sensors and target recognition techniques.
Above: glimpse of the possible basis of the Qinetiq system, seen at the kick-off
meeting at Copehill Down.
MicroPilot Teams up with QinetiQ In the UK MOD Grand Challenge
October 9, 2008
The UK MOD Grand Challenge, as part of the Defence Technology Strategy, is a
science and technology competition providing an opening into the UK defence
market for new suppliers and investors. The challenge is to create a system with
a high degree of autonomy that can detect, identify, locate and report a
comprehensive range of military threats in an urban environment. Team Cortex
from QinetiQ successfully integrated MicroPilot’s MP2128
autopilot into the Tiger VTOL; a multiple platform UAV concept that uses an
array of multispectral sensors and target recognition techniques.
Team Cortex was awarded the Judges Merit for the most innovative platform
technology that shows a clear military benefit. Jon Stoackley of QinetiQ stated,
“the Tiger VTOL generated a huge amount of interest from all levels of UK
With 500 clients in 60 countries, MicroPilot is world leader in miniature
autopilots for UAV’s and MAV’s. Weighing 28 grams MicroPilot offers a full line
of UAV autopilots, accessories, customization, HORIZON ground control software
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feature allows you to conduct Ab Initio training for payload operators.
Congratulations Team Cortex who plan on entering the Grand Challenge 2 with a
new and improved Tiger VTOL equipped with MicroPilot’s MP2128
Dragonfly Air Systems Team
Dragonfly Air Systems
Gress Aerospace (Canada)
Controp Precision Technologies Limited (Israel)
They are offering a lightweight UAV with sensor package.
The above image is from the Dragonfly Air Systems web site at
, showing a two bladed, lightweight, helicopter.
Offering their Testudo: an Unmanned Ground Vehicle with an air surveillance
platform and tethered blimp relay station.
Rapid Systems Solutions Team
Merged with Team Tumbleweed
Rapid Systems Solutions Limited
Oxford Brookes University
The Northwest Composites Centre
They are offering a four wheeled ground robot incorporating a supporting
tethered air vehicle.
The above image is from the RSS web site at
"RSS are in consultation with sensor and communications partners and aim to
develop a winning solution. The air system development vehicle has been designed
and manufactured with a lead time of 2 weeks. The development is on time, on
target, and on budget". - from
Two small, stabilised, helicopters with a combination of infra-red and visible
A combined short range and medium range UAV system to deliver optical and
A TECHNOLOGY whiz kid from Camden Town could change the face of warfare if his
ideas are adopted by the armed forces. Tom Foran is entering the MoD's Grand
Challenge to find new ways of detecting threats to its troops. The 20-year-old
and his team of fellow students from Middlesex University are designing a UAV
(unmanned autonomous vehicle) that will fly above the ground spotting snipers,
bombs and enemy vehicles. The hi-tech spy plane will be mounted with thermal
imaging equipment and robotic cameras and will relay information back to base
without the need for a pilot. The York Way resident said: "Other teams entering
the challenge are designing ground-based UAVs. But we are developing a flying
vehicle as the air is probably the safest place to be in a battlefield. "Being
airborne will also give the best viewing angles and provide the most detailed
The five-man team, including lecturer Dr Stephen Prior and a PhD student, expect
the project to cost more than £30,000. Dr Prior said: "We are now seeking
partners to help fund the development of this exciting work."
Article by by Ed Thomas
Advanced New Technologies
They are offering multiple sensors carried by small UAVs to create a sensor
array of the target area.
The Thales Team (T3)
The University of Reading
The University of Loughborough
Thales are also looking to engage a whole network of Schools, bringing the
excitement of this technical challenge to the next generation of scientists and
Photographs taken at the Grand Challenge All Teams Briefing on the 30th April
The University of Reading has a fascinating site / blog at
full of interesting information, including a shot of a land vehicle shown next.
The above image, from
shows "last year's robot" which forms the starting point for the work by staff
and undergraduate students at the University of Reading.
Finally two Teams have expressed a real interest, but have not offered a full
solution to the Challenge. They wish to continue their association with the
Challenge under their own funding to aid others or demonstrate their capability
when appropriate. These Teams are welcomed as Associates.
The services of their NEMESIS (Network Enabled Multi-Environment System
Mobile phone technology for through-wall imaging.
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