HORIBA MIRA to de-risk British soldiers under fire with autonomous ground and air re-supply solution

Successful contract win to help make the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams self-sufficient draws on the ingenuity of six innovative British technology firms

  • HORIBA MIRA leads £3m contract for an end-to-end autonomous resupply system backed by five additional UK organisations making hardware and software contributions
  • AGILE (Air & Ground Intelligent Logistics Environment) integrates autonomous unmanned air and ground vehicles with a battlefield management and logistics information system to automate a just-in-time re-supply to the front line
  • Automation of re-supply enables troops to be reallocated for combat as opposed to logistical duties, enabling lean, self-sufficient combat teams
  • HORIBA MIRA’s VIKING Unmanned Ground Vehicle, using advanced AI for autonomous operation, provides an all-weather heavy payload delivery capability – with unmanned air systems from Malloy Aeronautics, Skylift and Vulcan

MIR008 Defence Graphic B vf 1

Nuneaton, Warwickshire. HORIBA MIRA confirmed today the successful award of a £3m contract from the MOD’s Future Capability Group to re-supply front line UK forces using an intelligent just-in-time ordering capability delivered by unmanned air and ground vehicles as an integral part of battlefield management applications. The autonomous solution will enhance the speed, efficiency and safety of combat missions.

By de-risking troops from battlefield exposure associated with logistical operations, manpower can be better deployed in combat roles and missions can be delivered at greater tempo. This aim is consistent with the ambition set out in last March’s Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, which envisages self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams able to meet demand by drawing on their own dedicated logistics and combat support units.

AGILE is distinct in the make-up of the companies selected by HORIBA MIRA to deliver the end-to-end solution; rather than large defence contractors, all of AGILE’s expert partners are smaller, UK-based innovators with cutting-edge hardware and software technologies that have the capacity to deliver HM Forces with a competitive advantage. The companies supporting AGILE include automation specialists, Blue Prism, mesh communications experts, DTC Limited and three consortium members providing unmanned aerial systems, including Malloy Aeronautics, Skylift UAV and Vulcan UAV.

HORIBA MIRA is leading the project, with responsibility for integration of the robotic & autonomous battlespace management systems and provision of its VIKING six-wheel unmanned ground vehicle. VIKING is distinct for its performance that allows it to carry payloads of 750kg at speeds of up to 50km/h with high manoeuvrability achieved through its 6-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel steering. VIKING is powered by a diesel electric parallel hybrid powertrain which delivers 20 km of silent operation and a total range of up to 200km.

HORBA MIRA VIKING en route to delivering supplies has been re tasked to evacuate a casualty 1

HORIBA MIRA’s autonomous Viking has multiple applications beyond front line re-supply including casualty evacuation

VIKING’s highly advanced autonomous operation has been built on HORIBA MIRA’s MACE system that has been in continuous development for 15 years. MACE uses vision-based AI for terrain and object recognition, for mapping, routeing and obstacle avoidance even in GPS-denied environments.

The AGILE solution is hosted on a single mesh network linking multiple air and ground platforms, and is directed through HORIBA MIRA’s battlespace management software which can be controlled by a single user.

The work builds upon previous projects that MIRA has completed with Dstl, the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) developing new technology for Autonomous Last Mile Resupply (ALMRS) and Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTAAR). It is a continuation of support for getting the latest technology into the hands of HM Armed Forces through the Defence Transformation Fund.

Andy Maloney, Chief Engineer for UGVs and Defence at HORIBA MIRA said,

This is a fantastic opportunity to capture the ingenuity of a number of leading UK-based companies, and advanced AI-based autonomy that we previously developed with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defence & Security Accelerator, to create a rapid development and experimentation programme to give the British Army durable advantage through emerging technologies.

James Gavin, Head FCG at DE&S, said, 

Our team used a dynamic commercial approach to stimulate industry and draw in over 50 companies who have key technologies in this area. They then worked with pace and agility to identify three suppliers offering potential solutions from a vast amount of industry specialists.

A pair of HORIBA MIRA VIKINGS at the forward resupply echelon awaiting supply requests 1

About AGILE Consortium Members

Blue Prism is the trading name of the Blue Prism Group plc, a British multinational software corporation that pioneered and makes enterprise robotic process automation software that provides a digital workforce designed to automate complex, end-to-end operational activities. The company is supporting AGILE with a logistics information system to provide robotic process automation, resource predictions, inventory management, scheduling, machine learning and AI. For more information about Blue Prism, please visit blueprism.com

DTC provides high performance surveillance, communications and broadcast systems enable our customers to securely monitor, communicate and share information with confidence in complex environments and in the most demanding situations. DTC is supporting the AGILE consortium with tactical mesh network communications for platforms, relays, base stations, and dismounted soldier equipment. For more information about DTC, please visit domotactical.com

Malloy Aeronautics are an ISO 9001 certified R&D, production and services company that makes heavy lift UAVs, drones and human-capable platforms. For AGILE, Malloy are supplying UAS large multirotor VTOL tactical re-supply vehicles supporting payloads from 30kg to 180kg. For more information about Malloy Aeronautics, please visit malloyaeronautics.com

Skylift was founded to provide work-class drones to wind farms, from lifting tool bags, servicing wind-turbines and the delivery of goods around the sites. However, the capabilities of these work-class drones have been recognised in other fields of work such as the security industry, providing aerial security & safety for open-air events. Skylift is supporting AGILE with fixed wing VTOL all-electric UAS supporting payloads up to 25kg. For more information about Skylift, please visit skyliftuav.co.uk

Vulcan UAV is a multi-copter design, development and manufacturing company based in the UK and specialising in unusual applications at the heavier lift end of the market and currently offer some of the toughest and most durable industrial multi-rotor UAV solutions in the world. Vulcan UAV D-Series Multi-Rotor UAS supporting payloads up to 26kg. Vulcan’s UAV D-Series multi-rotor UAS will support AGILE with aerial payload deliveries of up to 26kg. For more information about Vulcan UAV, please visit vulcanuav.com