Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
17 Jan 20. USN to start search for new Medium Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. The US Navy (USN) is set to kick off a competition to acquire a new Medium Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (MUUV) designed to support both mine countermeasures and oceanographic/environmental data gathering missions. To be deployed from both surface ships and submarines, the MUUV will be the de facto successor to the existing Razorback and Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicles, both of which are adaptations of the Kongsberg Hydroid REMUS 600 vehicle. Razorback is derived from the USN’s Littoral Battlespace Sensing Autonomous Undersea Vehicle (Submarine) (LBS-AUV(S)) effort. According to information released by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the MUUV will be “a modular, open system, and open architecture [UUV that] will provide persistent surface launched and recovered [MCM] and submarine-based autonomous oceanographic sensing/data collection in support of Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment [IPOE] and MCM”. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Jan 20. UK is Using Drones to Patrol the English Channel. Portuguese IT, defence and aerospace group Tekever has been seen flying a drone over the English Channel near Dover. It is likely to be searching for migrants on boats. On aviation website FlightAware, the flight popped up suddenly, already airborne at 240 metres. In neon green, the flight-tracking website showed an apparently muddled path, tracing a scribble alongside the coastline between Dover and the village of Camber before landing at Lydd Airport in Kent around four hours later.
FlightAware labelled the flight under the tail number G-TEKV, a code that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) database registers as a “fixed-wing landplane (unmanned)”. Aka: a drone
CAA records show the unmanned aircraft flying with the tail number G-TEKV is the 7.3m x 4.0m AR5 model manufactured by the Portuguese IT, defence and aerospace group Tekever. In the UK, G-TEKV is registered to Tekever’s office in the University of Southampton’s Science Park.
The CAA imposed airspace restrictions on 2 December and last until 31 March 2020. The CAA said aircraft can only enter the “temporary danger areas”, which can be put in place with less than 24 hours’ notice, after being cleared by air traffic control.They are limited to 1,200ft above sea level and will not affect commercial passenger planes. (Source: UAS VISION/Wired; BBC)
13 Jan 20. UK targets April for ‘swarming drones’ development unit. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) expects to stand-up an experimental unit dedicated to developing an operational ‘swarming drones’ capability in the coming months, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Jane’s on 13 January. 216 Squadron will be reactivated at the beginning of April, the MoD said, though the unit’s location has yet to be disclosed. “The RAF’s ambitious swarming drones project continues to be developed by the Rapid Capabilities Office [RCO], with progress during recent trials exceeding expectations in several areas. 216 Squadron will be reformed on 1 Apr 2020 to bring the capability into service and continue its development”, an MoD spokesperson said.
The MoD’s confirmation of the stand-up date for 216 Squadron came days after it told Jane’s that the unit had not been activated by the earlier announced planned date of the end of 2019.
As previously reported by Jane’s , the then-Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, said in February 2019 that by the end of that year the RAF would operationally field “swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing and overcoming enemy air-defence systems”. In July 2019 the then-Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, clarified the minister’s comments by saying that 216 Squadron would be stood-up by the end of the year to develop the concept, with the capability itself to be delivered by about July 2020.
“It is a far shorter timeline than you’d expect. Within a year [from the date of his remarks] we will have a capability, which we will then grow,” ACM Hillier said at the time at the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air & Space Power Conference (ASPC) in London on 17 July 2019. (Source: Jane’s)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.