The Ministry of Defence is to invest in projects that look at ways of using autonomous systems in the ‘last mile’ of the supply chain to front-line military operations.
Up to £1.5 million is available in the first phase of the competition. There is up to an additional £1.5 million in phase 2 that includes proposed system designs. This will only be available to projects funded through phase 1.
A third phase could include a longer period of trials and evaluation of promising proposals.
Last mile supply
Last-mile resupply involves delivery of combat materials from a physical base or logistics vehicle and is often challenging because of the hostile and contested environment. Although described as last-mile, real-life distances could be up to 30km in some instances.
Current ways of supplying the front line involve transport aircraft, helicopters, large trucks, trailers with quad bikes and soldiers on foot.
The challenge areas
This funding competition is particularly looking for solutions in 3 challenge areas:
unmanned air and ground load-carrying platforms
technologies and systems that allow load-carrying platforms to operate autonomously
technologies to autonomously predict, plan, track and optimise re-supply demands from military users
The competition is for fully funded contracts under SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative).