Military technology: MoD announces winner of robot challenge

British forces could soon be launching teams of autonomous spy robots to scope out enemy-held villages and towns. The technology was developed for the Ministry of Defence's Grand Challenge, a contest to find the best robotic air and ground vehicles for identifying threats such as snipers and roadside bombs. If future work goes well, the technology could be at the disposal of the army within 18 months.

More toys for the boys
meaning no disrespect to those involved, I am concerned about political interference in this. To have the red arrows show up, and to publicise it the way it was, I am concerned that pressure may have been applied to nominate a winner, even if the design didn't achieve all the test requirements. the mod site only says that it got the most 'points', not that it identified the target items specified when the project started.
To be entirely fair to the designers and MoD, we should understand the Technology Readiness Level process (or whatever they call it this week). There are 9 levels. Typically one must attain Level 3 to achieve Initial Gate, Level 7 for Main Gate (trialled in a representative environment) and Level 9 is proven in-service.

Under this scheme, I doubt if the devices tested are better than 5 or 6 which by definition means some further development is required, although the "18 months" quote infers some maturity of design and systems integration.

Some would say the likes of BOWMAN is still striving for such maturity so, on balance, and despite the overt political overtones, I'd put this down as a relative success story.

On the down side, this merely detracts from the fact that the MoD department that runs this show is not averse to putting out invitations to tender for Research and Development work when the solution has already been in service for 10 years and touted by both MoD users and manufacturers on the internet and internal MoD publications. As they did last month. They were quietly given the heads up, but to avoid embarrassment will probably still let the contract. What we could do with that £10M!!
Well done to team Tumbleweed (especially Matt, you must be glad it's finally over!)


Some very good ideas from the teams that could be saving lives in a few years.

Latest Threads