Competition: autonomy in challenging environments
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.
This competition is seeking technologies to broaden the environmental and performance envelope of unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems to include:
- unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV)
- unmanned surface vehicle (USV)
- unmanned ground vehicle (UGV)
- unmanned air system (UAS)
- hybrid systems
The challenging environmental conditions within scope are:
- high winds (such as gust effects and urban turbulence)
- heavy precipitation (such as rain, snow, blizzards and icing)
- high dynamic range illumination (including changes to UV, and night vision)
- water dynamics (such as currents and visibility)
- temperature (such as temperature extremes and fluctuations between extremes)
- sudden and enduring pressure or acoustic extremes underwater
- intense flashes of light (including infrared and ultraviolet)
- variable salinity
- dense vegetation (including flora and fauna)
- extreme and diverse terrains (such as variability in traction and elevation)
- high-obstacle environments (such as within caves and buildings)
- congested and contested EM environments (including radio frequency (RF) emissions)
- GPS denied environments
Any solutions proposed must not erode the core benefits of the existing unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous systems which include:
- persistence: unmanned systems should be able to operate independently for long periods and/or over long ranges either singularly or through an exchange or replacement system. Priority will be given to ideas that will have a low impact on size, weight and power (SWAP), for example, novel structural concepts could be combined with sensing and perception.
- combat mass: where the unmanned systems increase the sphere of influence through larger numbers of low cost systems. Low cost solutions are sought here.
- reach: unmanned systems must collectively lead to an increase in effective range of operation which must still be achieved in high risk and physically constrained environments.
Phase 1 aims to understand the feasibility, impact and military application of the innovation, for potential further development in Phase 2.
Proposals must address one or more of the following three challenge areas associated with the unmanned systems and environmental conditions listed above:
- perception and situational awareness
- maintaining effective human-machine partnerships
Friday 6 September 2019 (morning) – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum.
Friday 6 September 2019 (afternoon) – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions.
Thursday 12 September 2019 (morning) – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum.
Thursday 12 September 2019 (afternoon) – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions.
For more details on these events and booking links, see the competition document.