MoD GIVES FURTHER GRAND CHALLENGE BRIEF
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
30 Apr 08. The new Chief Scientific Adviser at the Ministry of Defence Professor Mark Welland FRS FREng, gave an upbeat introduction to the next stage of the MoD’s Grand Challenge, held at the QE 2 Centre in London on Wednesday April 30th He succeeded Professor Sir Roy Anderson FRS, who initiated the Grand Challenge last year with procurement supremo, Lord Drayson. Sir Roy left to rejoin Imperial College, pending his appointment as Rector this summer. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 31, 02 Aug 2007, GRAND CHALLENGE WINNERS ANNOUNCED).
The Grand Challenge was launched in November 2006 by the then Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Lord Drayson. Twenty-three teams subsequently entered the competition and eleven teams will now progress to the summer finale, subject to passing a final safety check in June.
Professor Welland told the audience that, “What we need is the right framework to be quick to react to new threats, which is what the Grand Challenge is all about. The MoD will provide a detailed Defence Technology plan on the internet by the end of the year. This will show what we need and we will also be guided buy our military colleagues who are seeking better protection for their troops on the battlefield. We are also looking at ways where we can be less dependant on fossil fuels. To reach our audience we will be revamping our publication which will be produced quarterly under the name of Codex – The Journal of Defence Engineering & Science. The first Edition will feature coverage of today’s event.”
Professor Welland also announced the setting up of a new Centre for Defence Enterprise on the Harwell Campus. The facility will be opened in a few months time and will host seminars to discuss military technology. It will also provide facilities to bring seed-corn funding into new defence technology start-ups.
Grand Challenge Competitors
The 6 winners of the Funded Segment announced in August last year included:
1. The Stellar Team of Stellar Services, Bluebear Systems, Selex, TRW Connect, MSV and Cranfield University offering a Saturn Integrated Micro UAV and UGV with a control station fusing both technologies.
2. SWARM Systems Team of SWARM Systems, Osran and the University of Surrey, offering the Owl lightweight Rotor UAV with three cameras.
3. The MIRA Team of MIRA, ERA, BAE Systems, Warwick University and the Royal Grammar school at Guildford offering a land-based optical system.
4. The Tumbleweed Team of Union of Marketing, BAE, AEI and MBDA offering a small UAV with a stabilized EO system.
5. The Silicon Valley Team of Silicon Valley, IDUS, Moon Buggy, Kingston University, offering a fixed ground fusion system
Ten teams chose to fund their own Challenge and these included Quartex from QinetiQ offering the Tiger Multiple Platform UAV; Thales, Reading University, Cranfield, Loughborough and Six Form schools; Team Locust of Bath and Portsmouth Universities offering multiple UAV sensors; A team offering an UAV with an optical thermal sensor; The Mindshield Team offering the Pestudo UAV and tethered relay station; Oxford Brooks University offering a Ground Robot UGNB supporting a tethered air vehicle; Sagention Ltd offering two small stabilized helicopters; Dragonfly Airsystems, Birmingham University, Greece Aerospace offering a micro UAV; The MBDA Team offering the Nemicis Senor Processing solution and Warwick University offering mobile phone technology to look through walls.
The Exhibition showed a number of systems currently being developed by teams from universities, schools and private business from across the UK, as part of the MOD’s Grand Challenge competition. The challenge will culminate in August when vehicles battle it out at Copehill Down, a village specially built by the military for urban warfare training.
Teams have been challenged to develop highly autonomous aerial and g