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HORIBA MIRA secures £2.3m government defence contract
In continuing to lead the charge on autonomous defence technology, HORIBA MIRA has secured a major £2.3m contract to supply a number of autonomous 6×6 unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Named the VIKING, it is the first autonomous UGV of its kind. Capable of carrying up to 750kg of supplies over long distances using advanced AI-based autonomy and GPS-denied navigation, it has been chosen for its high mobility performance, parallel hybrid powertrain and state of the art autonomy. VIKING is a multirole platform and can fulfil a number of specialist roles in addition to resupply such as soldier support, ISTAR, combat and IED detection.
The funding has been awarded as part of the Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTARR) Risk Reduction project in support of the Theseus transformation funded project. As part of the work, Dstl will conduct trials and experimentation on behalf of the UK MOD and look at ways to deliver vital supplies autonomously, reducing risk to front-line soldiers.
Project Theseus, announced by the Secretary of State for Defence, follows on from the Dstl Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) Autonomous Last Mile Resupply (ALMRS) project and will drive development and operational field experimentation of autonomous logistic resupply systems.
The contract will see HORIBA MIRA supply three of its pioneering VIKING autonomous UGVs over the next six months, with delivery expected in summer 2020.
The JTARR Risk Reduction vehicles will be used by Dstl to conduct scientific experimentation and user trials in collaboration with the Combat Service Support Trials and Development Unit (CSS TDU) based in Aldershot. Recognising the benefits of experimenting with HORIBA MIRA’s cutting-edge autonomous systems, VIKING will provide UK MOD with valuable insights into the use of UGVs to further inform and strengthen the upcoming JTARR and Theseus programmes.
Andy Maloney, chief engineer for defence and unmanned solutions at HORIBA MIRA, said: “As the first autonomous UGV of its kind, our innovative VIKING platform could revolutionise how critical supplies are delivered to front-line soldiers, especially in combat scenarios, where it could dramatically reduce the risk to life.
“We’re delighted Dstl has recognised VIKING’s game-changing capabilities and has awarded us this major contract. This is a testament to HORIBA MIRA’s agile approach to solving complex problems in a time compressed environment.”