Send in the probes: Grand Challenge vehicles gear up for final showdown
A range of futuristic vehicles that could one day help UK forces to identify and avert threats on operations have been unveiled at an MOD event in London.
The systems are 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 ground vehicles, which can detect and identify a range of threats encountered by UK troops on operations and which will be recreated during the August event- such as marksmen, roadside bombs and armed militia. Machines will incorporate highly sophisticated communications technologies that can relay this information back to team members, and ultimately to commanders on the ground.
Baroness Ann Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support said:
"We are continually looking for new ways to counter the threats faced by our Armed Forces on operations. It is vital that the latest technologies are rapidly incorporated into equipment for our troops.
"I want to congratulate the eleven teams that have made it to this stage of the competition, and wish them the best of luck for this summer's finale. Their efforts could one day bring life-saving solutions for troops on the ground."
Vehicles on display at the event included mini helicopters, flying robots working in tandem and unmanned ground vehicles kitted out with high-tech sensors.
Also on show were a range of state of the art sensors and robotics which are being developed by Defence Technology Centres. These are partnerships between MoD, industry and the science base which are exploiting cutting edge science to benefit defence. These included the latest high definition thermal imagers, pilot navigation aids and proposals for a new type of security scanner capable of detecting threats at 20 metres.
Notes to editors
1. Comprehensive information about the Grand Challenge, including imagery of Copehill Down village is available at http://www.challenge.mod.uk
2. 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.
3. More information on the Defence Technology Centres is available from http://www.emrsdtc.com (Electro-Magnetic Remote Sensing - cutting edge optical and radar sensors) and http://www.seasdtc.com (Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems).
4. Images will be available on the MoD Defence News Images Database from Friday 2 May.
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