UK engineering company secures two defence contracts

Automotive engineering and development consultancy company, HORIBA MIRA Ltd. has received a further boost to its unmanned vehicle development programme with the award of two new defence contracts.

An artist’s impression of MIRA Technology Park – image courtesy of MIRA

The Nuneaton-based technology park has been awarded the contracts for the development of autonomous systems in the Defence and Security Accelerator’s Last Mile competition.

The Last Mile programme aims to use advanced technology to remove supply forces from dangerous front-line operations by using unmanned supply vehicles instead.

Mark Carter, HORIBA MIRA’s UGV programmes director said: “MIRA continues to invest strategically in connected autonomous systems technology for military, off-road and on-road applications.

“These projects address critical challenges in key areas which will improve our ability to autonomously operate at range and over complex terrain.

“The award demonstrates the UK MOD’s commitment to Science and Technology and is a recognition of HORIBA MIRA’s capabilities in autonomy.”

The two projects awarded to HORIBA MIRA are:

  • Artificial Intelligence-based Low Bandwidth Perception, Command and Control for Last Mile Autonomy.

This will see HORIBA MIRA engineers develop an innovative command and control system, using AI, for the supervised autonomy of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).

The system will use AI for perception and obstacle-mapping, enabling a UGV to understand its surroundings yet transmit a fraction of the conventional quantity of data back its operator when compared to conventional video.

This will significantly reduce the communications bandwidth requirement and improve the ground-to-ground range and penetration when compared to traditional UGV links.

  • Advanced Terrain Perception, Intelligent Routeing and Path Planning using Artificial Intelligence for Last Mile Autonomy.

This will deliver advanced strategic and tactical route planning systems combining mapping data with AI to ensure autonomous UGVs can achieve their delivery objectives, thereby helping to de-risk front-line supply troops.

HORIBA MIRA is experienced in the field, having already delivered several programmes including PANAMA – a UGV in-service with the British Army for IED detection – and a collaborative programme with JCB and Leica to deliver autonomous unmanned construction machines.

This includes the development of an Autonomous Unmanned Track Loader, which is designed for both civil and defence use, and can complete a number of different engineering tasks, many of which have been identified by the British Army in their Remote and Autonomous Systems (RAS) programme.