Innovation and changeGovernment TechnologyArmy gets investments for military robotics and digital apps

Army gets investments for military robotics and digital apps

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson commits £66m and £30m as part of Transformation Fund towards military robotic projects and digital apps respectively

Army robotics development has been boosted by £66m worth of funding that will be used to expedite military robotic projects. An additional £30m will be earmarked towards developing digital apps with fast-track agile software development. Both these investments are part of the £160m transformation fund.

This comes after the UK Army trialled a range of projects at Exercise Autonomous Warrior at the end of 2018. The robot exercise was part of the biggest military testing effort in British history. The testing of over 70 examples of futuristic technology was carried out on the fields of Salisbury Plain.

Fast-track military robotic projects

Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary, pledged these funds to speed-up robotic projects onto the battlefield in 2019. He said: “This announcement is a clear demonstration of how our Armed Forces are reaping the benefits from our new multi-million Transformation Fund.

“Each of these new technologies will enhance our Army’s capabilities whilst reducing the risk to our personnel and I’m delighted we will be revolutionising frontline technology by the end of the year. The MOD has always embraced pioneering technology and this fund will ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global military capabilities and ahead of our adversaries.”

This new investment for the British Army will contribute to:

  • New mini-drones, providing troops with an eye-in-the-sky to give them greater awareness to outmanoeuvre enemies on the battlefield.
  • Systems to fit Army fighting vehicles with remote-control capability, so they can be pushed ahead of manned vehicles and used to test the strength of enemy defences.
  • New autonomous logistics vehicles which will deliver vital supplies to troops in warzones, helping remove soldiers from dangerous resupply tasks so they can focus on combat roles.

Part of the new developed equipment are planned to be deployed at Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. This deployment will happen before the end of 2019.

Platform for Rapid Exploitation of Digital Applications (PREDA)

PREDA is related to the technology being introduced by the United States Air Force (USAF) and US Marine Corps.

The influx of the £30m will inspire innovation in the development of application software for the Armed Forces. These applications will allow swift shift towards the most advanced level of technology. These applications will prove to be handy for extreme environments ranging from natural disasters to the frontline.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “From major natural disasters to the frontline on the battlefield, our Armed Forces are quick to react and even quicker to adapt. This technology matches that agility by enabling the creation of specialist digital applications that are tailored, secure and responsive.

“By deploying this technology into the hands of our military, from sailors serving in the Caribbean, to pilots working in the Middle East, we will ensure we have a fighting force fit for the future, equipped with state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips.”

This vital technology will provide the military the warfighting advantage essential for beating adversaries and withstanding new threats. In other words, it will let the personnel visualise and automate secure information that is critical to their mission.

Transformation Fund

Under the Modernising Defence Programme, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is adopting transformation rapidly. The £160m Transformation Fund investments are aimed at a pathway for creating next generation armed forces.

Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff said: “Rapid adaptation is an essential ingredient for success on the battlefield. The fielding of the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles and ground-breaking robotic and autonomous systems will keep the British Army at the cutting edge of battlefield technology, improving our lethality, survivability and competitive advantage.”

Colonel Peter Rowell, Assistant Head of Capability Strategy and Force Development said: “Robotic and autonomous systems make our troops more effective; seeing more, understanding more, covering a greater area and being more lethal. They unshackle them from the resupply loop.

“These are game-changing capabilities; and not just for combat operations. They are equally useful in humanitarian and disaster relief operations.”

The Defence Secretary is likely to get a nod for another £340m available as an allotment of the Spending Review.

Digital transformation is high on the agenda for MoD. Last month, it invited applications to understand cyber risk exposure using Cyber Risk Tooling.

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