17 Aug 16. QinetiQ will provide the UK component of a multinational demonstration of unmanned and autonomous systems under a new contract with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The demonstration, dubbed Hell Bay 4, will see a variety of unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles working co-operatively within a number of squads, autonomously undertaking mine countermeasures missions. QinetiQ will lead a team that includes Seebyte, Blue Bear Systems Research and ASV in the exercise, which involves participants from the US, Canada and Australia.
Hell Bay 4 will be delivered under the Maritime Autonomy Framework (MAF), a Dstl-led initiative and development programme that has enabled the UK to participate in a number of regular multinational demonstrations and trials. Phase one of the Framework established software and architecture to test Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV), with Phase Two seeing the integration of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) into a cooperative squad.
QinetiQ is contracted to deliver the third phase of the MAF, in which an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will be introduced into the squad to provide situational awareness and communications relay to vehicles on and under the water. It will bring together underwater vehicles operated by the Royal Navy’s autonomous systems trials team, an unmanned C-Worker 5 surface vehicle provided by ASV and the Blue Bear Blackstart UAV.
The contract win is the fifth in a year for the QinetiQ Maritime Autonomy Centre (QMAC), established in 2013 to accelerate the UK’s adoption of autonomous systems by facilitating their design, development, testing and evaluation.
Hell Bay 4 will take place in Scotland in October as part of Unmanned Warrior, the Royal Navy’s showcase event demonstrating the potential of unmanned and autonomous systems. Unmanned Warrior involves over 40 different organisations and 50 vehicles undertaking challenging military missions in a demanding environment. QinetiQ is leading the Command and Control component of Unmanned Warrior and playing a key role in enabling the overall programme.
Lisa Hunter-Yeats, programme lead said: “We are really excited to be working with Dstl on this important programme. MAF has a really strong reputation in pushing the boundaries in maritime autonomy; we have great partners and a strong team and are looking forward to Unmanned Warrior in October.”
Phil Brown, programme lead in Dstl, said: “I am pleased to be working with QinetiQ and their partners and am confident that Hell Bay 4 will be the latest in a series of very successful multinational demonstrations, pushing forward the boundaries in maritime autonomy.”
16 Aug 16. British Army Watchkeeper UAV downed by computer glitch. A Royal Artillery Thales Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed in Wales after a computer glitch made it activate its landing procedures prematurely, an inquiry has found. The director general of the Defence Safety Authority, Air Marshal Dick Garwood, said the crash showed the vehicle management system computer (VMSC) software was “not fit for purpose”.
Details of the crash and a series of complex computer faults were revealed in a Service Inquiry report released on 12 August by the UK Defence Safety Authority.
According to the report, Watchkeeper WH031 crashed as it was making its final approach to the ParcAberporth airfield in Wales on 16 October 2014.
It was 20 feet above the ground when the UAV’s VMSC registered a false “ground touch” signal, which activated its V-tail pitch down function. As a result, it nose-dived into the runway causing “considerable damage” to the fuselage. A photograph published in the report shows the UAV’s undercarriage had collapsed and the fuselage broken apart just in front of its wings.
A laser altimeter registered a false height reading on the ParcAberporth wet runway as the air vehicle approached the airfield, said the report. Several safety functions that would have p