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17 Sep 21. DoD Buys Two New Supercomputers That Rank Among Its Most Powerful Ever. The two new supercomputers, according to the company, will provide DoD with a combined total of over 365,000 cores, more than 775 terabytes of memory, and a total of 47 petabytes of high-performance storage. The Pentagon recently completed a $68 m acquisition of two new supercomputing platforms and related technical services that rank among its most powerful supercomputers ever and will be among the top 100 performers globally.
“These are significant assets,” Kevin Newmeyer, deputy director of the Defense Department’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), told Breaking Defense. “They bring to us an increase in our computing capacity and the latest advanced chips for artificial intelligence work and storage to support applications of both computational and machine learning concepts within the same computer that we hope will deliver products and services to the warfighter faster.”
It’s the HPCMP’s job to give DoD military and civilian as well as defense contractor scientists, engineers, and technologists access to such supercomputers to solve some of the military’s most computationally complex problems.
The problems range from climate/weather/ocean modeling and simulation, space/astrophysical sciences, and acoustics to signal/image processing, data/decision analytics, and electronics, networks, and C4I systems. Newmeyer said the most common use case is computational fluid dynamics, which is required for making complicated calculations in areas such as aircraft and ship design and engineering.
For the latest acquisition, the Pentagon chose Penguin Computing’s TrueHPC supercomputing platform. The two new supercomputers, according to the company, will provide DoD with a combined total of over 365,000 cores, more than 775 terabytes of memory, and a total of 47 petabytes of high-performance storage, including over 5 petabytes of high-performance flash storage.
“That’s about 150,000 computers all stacked together, operating as one thing,” Newmeyer said. “If you laid them end to end, you would work your way pretty much across the country.”
What does all that compute power get you? An additional 17.6 petaFLOPS, in total. FLOPS — or floating point operations per second — are the standard measure of a supercomputer’s performance. FLOPS are determined by how many real numbers a computer can process per second while accounting for the trade-off between range and precision of calculations.
FLOPS are a “measure of computational power for solving computer-based problems. It’s the horsepower of a machine,” Penguin’s Vice President of Federal Sales Tom Ireland told Breaking Defense.
PetaFLOPS number one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000). To put that in perspective, HPCMP currently has a total capacity across all of its supercomputers of approximately 100 petaFLOPS, according to Newmeyer. That includes the Navy’s most powerful (known) supercomputer, Narwhal, which is capable of 12.8 petaFLOPS. The known part of the Air Force’s most powerful supercomputer, Mustang, is capable of 4.87 petaFLOPS. (Part of Mustang is classified, Newmeyer noted.) Penguin’s two TrueHPC supercomputers — expected to register at 8.5 petaFLOPS and 9 petaFLOPS — will be two of HPCMP’s most powerful computers ever, Ireland said.
According to the Top500 Project, the fastest supercomputer in the world, as of June 2021, is Japan’s Fugaku, which registered 442.01 petaFLOPS in November 2020, taking the top spot from IBM’s Summit (148.6 petaFLOPS), which is housed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The Pentagon’s upgrade in supercomputing power comes amid an intense technological race against near-peer rival China. According to the Top500, China currently leads the world in the total number of supercomputers with 188, but when ranked by performance, the US has five of the top 10 most powerful supercomputers in the world, while China has two of the top 10. No other country has more than one in the top 10.
Ireland noted that Penguin, which has been building supercomputers for 20 years, has for years been running programs at the Department of Energy, which has the most powerful (known) supercomputers in the US. Fifteen of Penguin’s debuts over 20 years have made the Top500, and were DoD to run official benchmarks on these two new supercomputers, they would rank within the top 100 worldwide, Ireland said.
The Navy’s DoD Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC) at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi will house one of the new platforms, while the other will go to the Air Force Research Lab’s DSRC at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
But first Penguin has to build, deploy, and integrate them into HPCMP’s network, known as the Defense Research Engineering Network (DREN). Ireland said Penguin’s TrueHPC consists of about 1,500 nodes, which must be engineered to work as one, giant machine.
“The trick with distributed computing — meaning it’s taking what heretofore was done on a mainframe-style computer where it’s all on a board, and it’s broken up into separate, discrete servers — is making sure that is an adequate platform for any given application,” Penguin’s Chief Strategy Officer Matt Jacobs told Breaking Defense. “To make sure that balance between the elements is right and there’s an appropriate amount of compute to solve the problem.”
Jacobs said some of the key elements include data patterns, network traffic, and storage capacity, which all must be brought together in a way that “doesn’t strand investment in any given element of those resources and that it’s an effective production platform for the workload application. That’s really the art,” he added.
Jacobs said that Penguin generally builds these types of platforms in a couple of months, but like many companies worldwide, Penguin has encountered challenges in the global supply chain, especially around chips. Jacobs and Ireland said the supply chain hiccups are beyond the company’s control, but said they still wouldn’t significantly delay the project.
Notably, the platforms will include over 100 NVIDIA graphics processing units, or GPUs, to bolster DoD’s AI and machine learning capabilities, Ireland said.
Ultimately, Ireland said, the project is about “keeping the US warfighter equipped with state-of-the-art technologies to solve compute problems. We’re keeping our warfighters current. You don’t want them fighting wars with F-14s when there’s F-22s.”
It’s unclear how long the era of supercomputers will last, as the US and China, among others, race ahead towards quantum computing, which uses quantum mechanics to make a technological leap in processing power. But Newmeyer said he’s not concerned traditional supercomputing platforms will become obsolete anytime soon.
“You’ll still have a use for these types of machines,” he said. “Any quantum computer built in the near future is going to be highly expensive to operate, and [quantum computers] are only more useful for certain applications — maybe in some stuff around hypersonics, certainly cryptology, navigation — there quantum has a key role. But for general computation, [quantum] is an awful lot of money.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Sep 21. LDRA Joins Wind River Studio Partner Ecosystem; Adds Safety and Security Analysis and Verification to the DevOps Software Lifecyle. Relationship extends Wind River’s cloud native platform for the development, deployment, operations, and servicing of mission-critical intelligent systems from devices to cloud. LDRA has joined the Wind River Studio partner ecosystem, offering static and dynamic analysis for safety- and security-critical applications that use Wind River’s cloud native platform for intelligent systems. The leader in standards compliance, automated software verification, software code analysis, and test tools extends Wind River’s cloud native platform with a single work environment enabling developers and others to conduct these automated analysis and verification tasks throughout the DevOps software lifecycle.
Wind River Studio is a cloud native platform for the development, deployment, operations, and servicing of mission-critical intelligent systems from devices to cloud. It enables improvements in productivity, agility, and time-to-market, with seamless technology integration that includes far edge cloud compute, data analytics, security, 5G, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. The latest version, announced July 20, adds LDRA’s analysis and verification capabilities, which automate coding standards compliance, software quality analysis, and source code coverage analysis on the host and target.
“As the complexity of embedded systems grows, and 5G, AI, and the Internet of Things become mainstream, cloud-native platforms have emerged as the de facto standard for the entire lifecycle of mission-critical intelligent systems,” said Ian Hennell, Operations Director, LDRA. “These systems include edge devices and cloud-hosted applications for delivering safer, more economical, and more capable products and systems across all market segments. Ensuring that these systems meet evolving safety and security requirements and standards is a critical step in the process.”
LDRA Integration Helps Deliver Seamless Collaboration Across Product Lifecycle
Wind River Studio’s customizable automation engine, digital feedback loop, and enhanced security and analytics with machine learning capabilities all support DevSecOps (development security operation) pipelines. The Wind River Studio Platform enables seamless collaboration across the product lifecycle for an increasingly remote, geographically dispersed workforce and changing developer demographics.
LDRA’s contribution to the Wind River Studio platform includes:
- VxWorks, VxWorks 653 and VxWorks Cert Edition
o An extensive set of physical targets spanning all popular architectures
o Testing on virtual targets using Wind River Simics
o Compliance with industry- and user-defined coding standards such as MISRA and CERT
- Automated dynamic testing, including source code coverage analysis to meet the demands of the most stringent design assurance levels
- Automatic production of software certification and approval evidence
LDRA software solutions are underpinned by LDRA’s ISO 9001:2015 certified quality management system, and the LDRA tool suite’s TÜV SÜD and SGS-TÜV Saar certification.
“In an intelligent systems future, automation will be vital throughout a secure DevSecOps software lifecycle, allowing teams to spend more of their valuable time on innovation instead of routine tasks,” said Amar Parmar, Senior Director, Solution Partners at Wind River. “By working with industry leaders like LDRA to further extend the Wind River Studio platform, we can address key customer needs such as the automation of test coding standards compliance, software quality analysis, and source code coverage analysis.”
16 Sep 21. UK’s future force to lean heavily into robotics, AI and hybrid power. The British Army is leaning heavily into robotics, artificial intelligence and hybrid-power technology as part of a new acquisition process dubbed Mercury, according to a British Army leader involved in future procurement planning. The Army is grappling with how to acquire technologies that it believes it will need in the future, how to spiral in those technologies across its equipment programs and how to cultivate skills in its soldiers to use capabilities as they come online, Col. Christopher Coton, the service’s assistant head for concepts, said at the DSEI defense exhibition in London on Sept. 15.
Driving innovation to achieve its goals, the Army must better identify technologies that will likely change the way the service operates and fights, Coton said. This would be done by drawing on traditional and nontraditional suppliers, the officer added, and the service needs to better articulate what it needs to both small and large companies capable of helping to co-develop technology along the way.
Mercury is one part of the approach, Coton said, and represents “how we will protect our soldiers, our vehicles and our formations in the future beyond 2035.”
The effort is based on two key tenants, he said. The first is the Army expects combat power to be increasingly dispersed across the battlefield. The second is that it expects the increasing electrification of vehicles in the land fleet.
“To retain that idea of mutual support between human entities and that dispersed force, we think we’ll have to off-board protection; protection that has historically and traditionally been integral to the platforms themselves and in that we will harness technologies such as robotics, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning,” and a variety of novel effectors and sensors, Coton said.
“As they emerge throughout this decade and into the next, you will see a bubble of systemic protection that will rely on a constellation of subsystems that will preempt and neutralize enemy threats before they’re able to have an effect on the human element of the system,” he added.
The idea is “deliberately nebulous,” he noted. “In fact, we think one of the strengths of the Mercury idea is that that goal is nebulous because it allows us to shape it over the proceeding decade. It allows us to develop the ideas with industry along this common theme.”
Key to the relationship with industry, Coton noted, will be a commercial framework that the Army is developing with industry. “We don’t underestimate the challenge of this,” he said.
Another aspect of Mercury will focus on experimental activity in the short term that will help the Army realize “long-term aspiration,” Coton said.
For example, at DSEI, the Army ran a technical demonstration where it retrofitted combat vehicles with hybrid electric drives.
“We’re using these vehicles to form then a surrogate for future experimentation, the development of networks, the tethering of drones, [unmanned ground vehicles], [unmanned air vehicles], and of course … effectors and sensors as they mature throughout the decade,” he said.
That experimentation will take place in the Army’s BattleLab in Dorset, according to Coton.
Complementing Mercury is the service’s Army Warfighting Experiment, which “seeks to broaden that aperture of innovation and invention to look at technologies and capabilities, to experiment with them and capture a wide array of technological innovation to better prepare the Army more generally for complex future warfare,” Coton said.
The 2021 experiment will take place next month. In subsequent years, from 2022 through 2024, Coton said, the event will focus on the urban environment and how to exploit technologies and experiment with capabilities pertinent to that environment. (Source: Defense News)
14 Sep 21. Curtiss-Wright Introduces Mini Modular Mission Computer with 6th gen Intel® Atom™ Low-Power Processor and Support for Deterministic Ethernet Networking. Parvus® DuraCOR® 313 mission computer combines next-gen Intel processing with support for Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) in modular small form factor rugged design. Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division (Bays 22-26 ExCeL Exhibition Centre), a leading supplier of small form factor (SFF) mission computing and networking solutions engineered to succeed, has introduced a new ultra-rugged miniature mission computer that combines a low-power, quad-core 6th gen Intel® Atom™ x6400E Series (Elkhart Lake) processor with support for real-time 802.1-based Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) network connectivity. The ultra-small form factor (USFF) Parvus® DuraCOR® 313 mission computer is one of the industry’s first solutions for deploying a MIL-grade TSN endpoint for deterministic Ethernet connectivity to address time synchronization, ensure low-latency communication, and manage network traffic scheduling.
Providing system architects with one of the smallest and lightest rugged mission computers on the market (~5.2” x 5.4”x 2.0”; ~2 lbs), the DuraCOR 313 delivers significant performance improvement compared to legacy Intel “Baytrail” Atom computing solutions. In fact, the mission computer’s 64-bit Intel architecture features 2x the processing and 3x the graphics performance with 4x the memory capacity, and expanded I/O capabilities compared to the legacy DuraCOR 311 computer based on Intel’s E3845 Atom. The DuraCOR 313 is designed for optimal performance in the harshest size, weight and power (SWaP) constrained environments. Housed in a fanless IP67-rated miniature enclosure with industrial temperature components and MIL-performance circular connectors that are pin-compatible with the DuraCOR 311, the DuraCOR 313 sets the industry standard for environmental testing/qualification with adherence to MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-704 and RTCA/DO-160 conditions for environmental, power and EMI (thermal, shock, vibration, dust, water, humidity, altitude, power spikes/surges, conducted/radiated emissions and susceptibility). This modular open systems approach (MOSA) based mission computer provides an ideal commercial off the shelf (COTS) solution for vehicle, airborne, industrial, manned and unmanned vehicle and sensor applications.
“Curtiss-Wright continues to raise the bar when it comes to integrating the most advanced processing capabilities into the smallest and lightest possible rugged mission computer,” said Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division. “With its low-power Intel Atom processor and extremely flexible complement of I/O scalability, this MOSA line replaceable unit goes further, bringing support for TSN-based deterministic Ethernet connectivity to deployed mission computing.”
Unmatched Modularity While the DuraCOR 313 natively supports Gigabit Ethernet, CANbus, USB, serial, video, audio, and digital I/O interfaces, its ultra-modular architecture provides system designers with a vast array of options for add-on I/O cards and flexible data storage. The unit can be configured with up to three slots for add-on Mini-PCIe I/O modules (for video capture, MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, RS232/422/485 and other databus interfaces), as well as optional removable 2.5” SATA SSD storage for high capacity storage, data logging, and information assurance requirements. For applications seeking a turnkey modified-COTS (MCOTS) solution, DuraCOR 313 variants can be pre-integrated with application-specific I/O cards with minimal NRE cost and minimal impact to lead time.
Deterministic Ethernet with TSN Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) is a set of open architecture IEEE-based Ethernet networking capabilities used to support low-latency, precision data delivery over Ethernet for applications that require real-time communications. While traditional defense and aerospace systems rely on older, proven technologies such as MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, and CANBus to support time-critical communications, TSN is designed to coexist with today’s low-cost existing Ethernet technologies and will enable Ethernet backbones for future ground vehicles and aircraft that support not only traditional data and communications traffic, but also provide real-time control over Ethernet interfaces to weapons systems, autonomous vehicles, and other devices historically controlled via legacy data buses.
Built to Protect Network Data DuraCOR 313 features a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) compliant with the TPM 2.0 specification for creating secure computing environment. The module ensures that only trusted and signed BIOS and software can execute on the system. Hardware accelerated encryption is supported through the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) and Intel SHA Extensions. The unit also supports a removable, self-encrypting solid state disk (SSD) and zeroize discrete to sanitize mission data.
Upgrade Path Solution Delivering a significant boost for CPU and GPU performance, plus larger RAM memory capacity over legacy Atom systems, the DuraCOR 313 is ideal for technology upgrade applications seeking low-cost, low-SWaP Intel-compatible mission processing. Further, the unit gives legacy DuraCOR 311 customers a pin-for-pin compatible migration path in a similar form factor chassis with the same mounting holes.
About Parvus Rugged Computing and Networking Systems The Parvus product line of embedded mission computers (DuraCOR), network switches (DuraNET) and IP routers (DuraMAR) are extremely rugged MOSA solutions built for deployment in the harshest military and aerospace environments. Whether airborne, on ground vehicles or deployed on surface or underwater vessels, Parvus systems deliver optimal performance. These low-SWaP line replaceable units (LRUs) are housed in fanless IP67-rated miniature chassis that feature MILperformance circular connectors and industrial temperature components. Designed to the most challenging environmental testing/qualification standards, Parvus products adhere to MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-704 and RTCA/DO-160 conditions for environmental, power and EMI (thermal, shock, vibration, dust, water, humidity, altitude, power spikes/surges, conducted/radiated emissions and susceptibility). Parvus systems have a long heritage of deployment onboard unmanned air/ground/surface/undersea vehicles, helicopters, tactical/combat ground vehicles, radar/missile platforms, fast jets, electronics pods, naval vessels, and commercial aircraft.
14 Sep 21. Curtiss-Wright Introduces Next Generation Single Axis Servo Controller to Deliver High Power Precision Motion Control and Stabilization. New compact/lightweight NC120A Nano Motion Controller outputs >3 kW and speeds system development with proven off-the-shelf solution. Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division (Bays 22-26 ExCeL Exhibition Centre), a proven supplier of precision motion control systems engineered to succeed, today introduced a new single-axis servo controller ideal for use in precision drive systems with size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints. The NC120A Nano Motion Controller is an exceptionally compact (5.4 x 5.3 x 3.8 in/138 x 135 x 97mm) and lightweight (<5 lbs/2 kg) unit that generates 120 A of peak current with 28 V input power to deliver more than 3 kW of power. The NC120A provides system designers with a compelling off-the-shelf alternative to the cost and time required for custom motion controller development, or for larger, heavier multicomponent motion controller designs, since it eliminates the need for an external load dump and higher voltage power supply or additional DC/DC converter. System designers can combine three of the scalable NC120A controllers to control up to three axes. Built rugged for integration into deployed mobile platforms, the unit is designed to provide optimal performance in extremely demanding motion controller applications.
“For many decades, Curtiss-Wright has been a leading supplier of field-proven precision motion control and stabilization systems,” said Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions. “With the introduction of our new Nano Motion Controller, we further extend our commitment to the motion control arena. This unit leverages our expertise in modular, scalable pre-engineered motor controllers to provide high power, precise control in a small, lightweight design. Even better, since it’s based on field tested and proven components, the Nano Motion Controller helps customers accelerate their time to market.”
The NC120A provides ultra-low latency motion control and stabilization based on modular open system approach (MOSA) electronics. The NC120A’s modular architecture enables it to adapt to the widest range of platform and system requirements, including modular control loops for stabilization, position, speed and current. For short-burst peak power applications, such as those required by autoloaders, camera cranes, or remote weapons stations with small-caliber turrets, a low power variant of the NC120A is available. Alternatively, the high voltage variant of the unit provides up to 18 kW of short-burst peak output power, ideal for platforms such as guided weapon control systems equipped with a high voltage power supply. That makes the NC120A a compelling motion control solution for remote weapons stations with medium caliber turrets or autoloaders for larger caliber weapon systems (up to 57 mm).
The intelligent motion controller, which features a built-in SoC and FPGA, is easily modified to meet unique customer requirements. For maximum flexibility, the motion controller supports a wide variety of I/O, including high-speed, low-latency RS-422/RS-485, CAN interfaces, digital inputs and outputs (analog I/O is optional), as well as Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) Gigabit Ethernet and USB interfaces. For applications that require extreme operating temperatures, the NC120A is also available in a water-cooled configuration. The unit can be configured in MIL-STD qualified housing or as a modular integration package.
The highly rugged solution is engineered to military standards including MIL-STD-1275 for power systems, MIL-STD-461 for EMC and EMI testing, and MIL-STD-810 for environmental engineering, to ensure optimal performance in harsh environments. It also meets functional safety measures that comply with IEC 61800 SIL 2 and IEC 61508 SIL 2 for operational safety. The NC120A is well suited for a wide variety of applications, including remote weapon stations, ammunition loaders, missile launcher drive systems, mortar drive systems, small-size integrated drive systems, and for general purpose motion control.
15 Sep 21. CloudBees and CACI to Partner on Software Delivery for Government. Alliance Connects CACI’s Sector Expertise with CloudBees Technologies for Implementing DevSecOps, Software Delivery Automation. CloudBees, the enterprise software delivery company, and CACI International Inc (NYSE: CACI), a leading provider of expertise and technology to government enterprise and mission customers, today announced a corporate partnership to bring a modern, innovative software delivery approach to government customers. The alliance unites CACI’s specialization in implementing enterprise and critical mission capabilities with CloudBees’ market-leading technology for DevSecOps and Software Delivery Automation (SDA).
The partnership is spearheaded by CACI’s Agile Solution Factory and DevSecOps Community of Practice, with the goal of rapidly fielding capabilities, consistently and securely delivering high-quality software to end users, and accelerating time to market.
“CloudBees’ products seamlessly integrate with our continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline and streamline the deployment and health check reporting process in our DevSecOps solutions,” said CACI Senior Capture Executive Rob Warren, who has been leading efforts to bring the joint solution to government customers.
CACI and CloudBees aim to bring modern, transformative software delivery practices, leveraging the latest in SDA technology, to government customers, and build world-class solutions for agencies looking for maximum return on their DevSecOps investments.
“Our federal business invests heavily in partnering with top-quality systems integrators to bring modern software delivery practices to the federal government,” said Michael Wright, director, public sector, at CloudBees. “CACI is unquestionably one of the premier performers of DevSecOps and is uniquely qualified to implement CloudBees’ technology for the benefit of the customers we support. We’re thrilled to be so closely allied with CACI, a company that is proven and trusted across government and missions as a national security company.”
Government agencies rely on CloudBees technologies to help software teams create trustworthy software delivery pipelines, automate audit reporting and real-time tracking, experiment freely, and transform into elite-performing teams focused on innovation.
- Learn more about CloudBees
- Learn more about Software Delivery Automation
- Learn more about CloudBees in the Government Sector
- Learn How CloudBees Helps Federal Agencies Achieve Continuous ATO
CloudBees, the enterprise software delivery company, provides the industry’s leading DevOps technology platform. CloudBees enables developers to focus on what they do best — build great software — while providing peace of mind to management with powerful risk mitigation, compliance and governance tools. Used by many of the Fortune 100, CloudBees is helping thousands of companies harness the power of continuous everything, setting them on the fastest path from a great idea, to great software, to amazing customer experiences, to being a business that changes lives.
Backed by Matrix Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Verizon Ventures, Delta-v Capital, Golub Capital and Unusual Ventures, CloudBees was founded in 2010 by former JBoss CTO Sacha Labourey and an elite team of continuous integration, continuous delivery and DevOps professionals. Follow CloudBees on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
About CloudBees DevSecOps
CloudBees makes enterprise-class DevSecOps products that orchestrate CI/CD tools into high-functioning and trustworthy delivery pipelines. With the first orchestration tool to earn a Certificate to Field by the DoD’s Platform One initiative, CloudBees empowers consistent and secure delivery of software that is worthy of release into any environment at any time, in the pursuit of continuous ATO. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
13 Sep 21. The world’s first hands-free jetpack created by two British entrepreneurs has been revealed for the first time. These are the first images ever released of Maverick Aviation’s prototype, which promises to transform the way challenging maintenance, inspections and rescues are carried out worldwide.
The jetpack is the brainchild of Hollywood animatronics expert Matt Denton and Royal Navy Commander Antony Quinn.
It uses a unique Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) system and is designed to be operated hands-free, allowing people to make safer flights, and precision landings on structures that are difficult to access — from wind turbines to military hardware, buildings and construction projects.
The Maverick Jetpack can be reconfigured as a heavy-lift drone capable of being operated remotely and carrying ten times the payload of current similarly sized systems on the market — easily enough to lift a casualty like a stricken climber to safety.
Other use cases include search & rescue, leisure, disaster relief, security and policing. The company, based at the Fareham Innovation Centre at Solent Airport, near Southampton, estimates the potential market for security, defence and rescue uses alone is worth in excess of £700m.
Helicopters are currently used to carry out much of this work, but Maverick’s Jetpack is far smaller, uses sustainable fuel, and can slash costs. It threatens to take market share in the global lift market, which Maverick says is worth approximately £52bn a year.
The jetpack is unusually light because Maverick exploited advanced manufacturing techniques like 3D printing and materials including aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre. It will travel at between 10mph and 30mph depending on the task.
The control system is extremely intuitive and the operator can switch on an in-built autopilot so they can multi-task while in flight if necessary. Early work on the control system software was funded by a £97,000 grant from Innovate UK, secured by Maverick’s grant partner Catax. This money also helped pay for patent applications and the creation of a concept demonstrator. The team has since received much more funding, including grants and business mentorship from the University of Southampton Science Park.
The first manned test flight is scheduled for next summer and the company is about to start seeking further investment to take the jetpack to market.
Co-founder Matt Denton is also Maverick’s CTO. He’s well regarded for his work on animatronics and control systems, having worked on numerous Star Wars movies that saw him develop the BB-8 droid from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also worked on Jurassic World and Harry Potter movies, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire.
Antony Quinn, CEO and co-founder of Maverick Aviation, commented:
“The jetpack uses the same sort of jet engines that you see on a passenger plane, only ours are the size of a rugby ball.
“What is unique about what we’re doing is the computer-controlled autopilot system that makes flying effortless and easy to control with precision. That’s how we have changed jetpacks from exciting to useful.
“It’s so intuitive to fly that the cost of training is going to be low, so you’re going to have all sorts of professionals suddenly able to work in the most inaccessible environments safely and quickly.
“I realised that the growing onshore and offshore wind industry really needed a solution like this. Their engineers climb up ladders inside these structures for hours each day and, in an emergency situation, it’s almost impossible to get down quickly. Drones can be useful for inspections, but in many circumstances you need to get an engineer up there.
“During tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of possible use cases just kept on mounting and I realised how big the opportunity was. The potential is almost endless.
“Before, people would have used a £30m helicopter to perform some simple tasks, we can offer a more tailored solution at a fraction of the cost.”
Karen Taylor, Group Head of Grants at Catax, said:
“What Antony and Matt are doing is the stuff of dreams. When we think of jetpacks, plenty of Hollywood scripts come to mind but this is the first time such a versatile piece of equipment is being created with business use cases at the forefront.
“They’ve achieved an incredible amount so far, and it’s fantastic that a British company is leading the way on such an important, game-changing piece of technology.”
14 Sep 21. Babcock International Group (Babcock), the aerospace, defence and security company, is renewing its partnership with Cranfield University as part of its ongoing commitment to invest in cutting-edge technology research. The three-year extension is through Cranfield’s Through-Life Engineering Services Centre (TES) and will focus on exploiting areas of digital technology development including AI, Digital Twins and Augmented Reality. The collaboration also supports the existing work of wider industry defence groups such as Team Defence Information.
Jim Sibson, Babcock’s Head of Research and Partnerships, said, “We’re delighted to be extending our partnership with Cranfield and one of the main benefits will be in how we deliver support in an increasingly complex engineering world, one where data volumes and digital technologies are increasing day by day.”
“This collaboration will enable us to continue delivering innovative support solutions for our customers, more efficiently and reduce costs in through-life support whilst improving asset availability.”
John Erkoyuncu, Director, Through-Life Engineering Services at Cranfield University, added: “For us, it is very important to work with companies like Babcock because we value the experience they can share with the students and also with developing our academic research. The benefits of collaborations between industry and academia can be substantial for both. With Babcock we’re looking at emerging and existing technology areas and to have the real-world challenges to work with means our research is really being tested and put to good use.”
Babcock and Cranfield are also key players on Team Defence Information’s (TDI) Community of Practice Group for Digital Twins, which includes members such as Rolls-Royce, Atkins and BAE and KBR. The group are responsible for developing a roadmap for digital twins in defence, linking into the National Digital Twin Programme. The group has delivered a series of knowledge sharing events and developed a range of vignettes to assist the design and development of digital twins.
Digital skills is another strand the partnership will continue to develop with Babcock currently supporting a Cranfield University PhD into Digital Twins. Babcock is also contributing to the development of the new Master Level apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions, which will be launching in April 2022. Jim added: “Investing in next generation skills – whether it’s a mechanical engineer, a data scientist or analyst, is vital for our future. Working together with Cranfield, we’re sponsoring a PhD in Digital Twin, specifically on the use of ontologies and standards for this type of technology and, just as importantly, how we apply this innovative research to the complex and critical assets we manage across our core markets.”
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.