|MoD Grand Challenge Finale: Part 3||- Finale 3|
The Team Barnard Align T-REX 600 helicopter powered by a 5,350 mAh LiPo battery. Flight time with a 600 g payload was about 11 minutes.
The Barnard Team used helicopters and a CropCam aircraft. The delta wing plane was flown at a nearby test site.
Team Cortex vertical take and landing aircraft.
The team I-SPY triple co-axial rotorcraft.
No images of the vehicles used by the Team Locust.
Chris Burgess of Team Mindsheet, a finalist in the MoD Grand Challenge, explaining the features of the agile Minsheet ground vehicle to Vicky Butler-Henderson, with Raglan Tribe, the Team Mindsheet Leader, looking on. This ground vehicle had a pan, tilt and zoom camera with a 30x zoom capability and a wireless link to the Forward Operating Base. See www.mindsheet.com for more information.
Raglan Tribe with a Team Mindsheet agile road vehicle.
No images of the vehicles used by the MIRA Team.
The Nebula glider used by the Silicon Valley Team.
The delta wing plane used by the winning Stellar Team.
The quadrotor used by the Swarm Systems Team.
Swarms of robots join the army
Intelligent swarms of autonomous robots that look like insects could soon be deployed for military information-gathering and reconnaissance, says David Hambling
The Guardian 21 August 2008
Small robots working in swarms have finally moved out of the laboratory and into the real world. That was the most significant feature of the Ministry of Defence's Grand Challenge competition, held over the weekend. It's an idea that is also being pursued by the US military.
The advantages of a decentralised swarm have long been apparent to researchers. After all, it's a strategy that has proven effective for ants, bees and other social insects for millions of years. However, until now, robot swarms have been experimental rather than practical.
The Grand Challenge took place at the MoD's urban combat training village on Salisbury Plain, and for the event it was bristling with threats - including hidden snipers and roadside bombs. Eleven teams competed in trying to locate the threats using robotic systems.
Several of the teams used robots working together and at least three could be classed as true swarms. Mindsheet fielded a fleet of mini-buggies and Locust a squadron of flying robots. Swarm Systems Ltd deployed a flock of eight small quad-rotor helicopters, called Owls.
"The principle advantage is robustness," says Stephen Crampton of Swarm Systems. "If eight vehicles go out and two are lost, then the other six can reform to carry out the whole task." Robustness is vital when otherwise the mission might fail because of a breakdown or accident. In a hazardous military situation, the system must be able to absorb damage. Additionally, multiple small units are cheap and easy to replace. They can also cover an area quickly and reduce mission time.
The Swarm Systems team was assisted by Professor Owen Holland of the University of Essex. Holland has previously worked on the idea of an UltraSwarm, described as a flying cluster computer in which multiple units combine their computing power. The Owls each have a spare processor, so they could be integrated into an UltraSwarm capable of processing data collected by swarm members. For example, it could map the dispersal pattern of airborne pollutants, allowing the swarm to follow them back to their source.
In the next year the Owls will also have a flocking algorithm. Researchers have found that birds use surprisingly simple rules in order to maintain their formation, and this technique has already been tested for parachute supply drops by US company Atair Aerospace. Its Onyx precision airdrop system allows GPS-guided aerofoil parachutes to fly together to the same spot without colliding. The same type of algorithm would allow a large number of Owls to operate autonomously in the same airspace.
Crampton says that a commercial version of the Owl swarm will be marketed next year. The possible applications include the military as well as police work, environmental monitoring and emergency search and rescue.
The ground vehicle used by the Thales Team.
The Maxi Joker 2 helicopter used by the Thales Team.
The six rotor air vehicle used by the Team Tumbleweed.
The ground vehicle used by the Team Tumbleweed.