Stellar result in UK MoD's 'Grand Challenge' contest

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The UK Ministry of Defence has selected Team Stellar as the winner of its urban warfare-related Grand Challenge competition.

Using two unmanned air vehicle types (pictured below) and an unmanned ground vehicle, Team Stellar used a control station that fused data from visual, thermal and radar sensors to beat six rivals. Named Saturn, the combined UAV and UGV system won the MoD's RJ Mitchell trophy, named after the Supermarine Spitfire chief designer. The team is now a contender for MoD-funded development of its technology into a deployed system.

 

 

Both images © UK Ministry of Defence

Launched in 2006 alongside the MoD's Defence Technology Strategy, the Grand Challenge's goal was to produce highly autonomous flying and ground vehicles capable of identifying threats such as snipers, vehicles mounted with heavy weapons, roadside bombs and armed militia.

Team Stellar's vehicles "successfully identified" a range of threats, says the MoD. "Using sophisticated communications systems their Saturn system was able to relay this information back to the team on the ground."

Team Stellar includes UK companies Blue Bear Systems, Marshall Specialist Vehicles, Selex Galileo, Stellar Research Services and TRW Conekt plus Cranfield University.

The MoD also gave Team Swarm, a consortium of companies and universities, the "most innovative idea" prize for its quadrotor UAV system, and Team Thales - which included the universities of Bristol and Reading - the "best use of national talent" award.

The winners were among seven teams that qualified from an initial 23 entrants to the competition, the final for which was held from 16-18 August at the MoD's Copehill Down training village on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.