News story

A synthetic environment for autonomous systems

Case study from the Swarm Systems Ltd who pitched their ideas to industry and investors at the CDE Marketplace on 6 September 2016.

Swarm Systems

With Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) funding, Swarm Systems Ltd proposed using a synthetic environment (SE) to increase the autonomy of small battlefield unmanned air systems (UAS).

The aim is to enable operation of these systems in complex and cluttered environments (for example, urban) in which different sensing systems are degraded at different times.

The SE is a simple model of the environment in which the mission will take place. It’s created and populated by data acquired prior to a mission. It can be thought of as a 3D volume with stacks of ‘sugar cubes’ or (‘voxels’), each voxel being tagged with relevant data, which is stored on the UAS.

The SE is used in conjunction with the live sensor data from the UAS to carry out augmentations (such as algorithms) that achieve higher levels of autonomy.

Four different augmentations have been investigated, each of which were shown to benefit UAS autonomy.

Swarm Systems now plans to develop this work towards a deployable solution, collaborating with another CDE-funded project. They will bring together several technologies to enable an air vehicle to navigate without global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

Jonathan Selbie, Director, Swarm Systems Ltd says:

Swarm Systems has completed enough work for it to be clear that its future products will be based on concepts matured during this funded CDE project. As a result of this work, Swarm Systems is able to develop advanced Nano UAS that could offer game-changing capability to British Infantry and Special Forces operatives.

Founded in 2007, Swarm Systems Ltd is an SME based in London developing Nano UAS technology.

View the pitch presentation slides.

About CDE

CDE funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. We work with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to develop cost-effective capabilities for UK armed forces and national security.

CDE is part of Dstl.

Centre for Defence Enterprise

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Harwell Oxford
OX11 0QX

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Published 15 August 2016