£40k or more for initial contracts up for grabs
The two-stage competition being run by the MoD focuses on “last-mile supply” systems.
As the camo-wearing Sir Humphries put it: “Last-mile resupply involves delivery of combat materials from a physical base or logistics vehicle and is often challenging because of the hostile and contested environment.”
The challenge set by the ministry is to build a drone that can do aerial or ground-based deliveries, autonomously predict resupply demands from frontline troops, or operate autonomously without a human having to guide it.
At the moment battlefield resupply is done in the time-honoured fashion of soldiers driving trucks or flying helicopters loaded with bullets, beans or boots to wherever they are needed. While not quite as high profile as frontline combat, it is a vital job – and yet is one that takes expensively trained human soldiers away from the front line where their skills, experience and (most importantly, in the brink-of-Terminator era we live in) ethical judgement can be best used.
“Phase 1 contracts are likely to be worth between £40,000 and £80,000 and last up to 6 months,” said the MoD.
The deadline for applying is 21 June 2017. ®