Animal Dynamics Selected for Defence and Security Accelerator Last Mile Resupply Challenge
Oxford University spin-out to design paramotor concept for autonomous drone delivery
Oxford, United Kingdom, September 14, 2017 – Animal Dynamics, the bio-inspired engineering company, has today announced it has been selected for the Defence and Security Accelerator’s (DASA) “Last Mile” Resupply Challenge. DASA is hosted by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and wants to identify innovative approaches to the delivery mission-critical supplies to the British Army over short distances. Animal Dynamics is designing a paramotor concept, which it believes will be much lower cost than existing quadcopter drones, as well as being more robust and able to remain airborne for longer.
Given its expertise in bio-inspired engineering, the Oxford University spin-out is developing its paragliding concept using its knowledge of gliding flight. Furthermore, the company has some of the leading paragliding experts in the UK, who between them have accumulated more than 15,000 hours flying paragliders and have won the British National Championships 7 times. Senior executives have also held senior roles at two of the leading paraglider manufacturers, Ozone and Gin Gliders.
“We are delighted to have been selected by DASA as this is a great validation of our unique expertise, which combines insights into bio-inspired aerodynamics with a deep understanding of gliding flight, to deliver a truly practical logistics system to some of the complex and dangerous resupply challenges facing the modern army,” said Alex Caccia, co-founder and CEO, Animal Dynamics. “We have taken a very different approach, because we simply do not believe traditional quadcopter drones are efficient, safe and have the endurance needed for resupplying the British Army in difficult conditions. We are also excited at the opportunities this technology presents in the wider consumer context, and for search and rescue, amongst other applications.”
DASA has launched this initiative to develop and demonstrate the use of autonomous systems to deliver mission-critical supplies, especially for challenging ‘last mile’ resupply in a land environment. This involves the delivery of combat supplies from the forward-most location (such as a physical base or a logistics/infantry vehicle) to personnel engaged in combat operations. Although relatively small in distance, these resupply activities are difficult as they are in an environment that is typically hostile, complex and contested. These activities need to quickly and efficiently deliver vital supplies in order to maintain operational tempo and enable successful mission outcomes. Therefore, DASA is seeking last mile resupply systems to:
· reduce the demand on existing platforms and infrastructure
· reduce the risk and burden on military personnel during last mile resupply
· increase the efficiency of the last mile logistic resupply operations with pace and accuracy
· provide an assured resupply capability for forward military users to enable more agile operations in complex environments
Pete Stockel, Dstl’s competition lead said: “The number and quality of the entries for this competition was outstanding and the competition was fierce. We chose the best from across the proposals to enable the system solutions we want for prototype demonstration and evaluation. This was a fully open competition, with many of those down-selected happening to come from the UK. This illustrates the strength of our national capability and the benefit of recent investments in this important, and rapidly developing, technology sector.”
The “Last Mile” Resupply Challenge has been broken into three phases. The first will see DASA host a joint collaboration event with all successful contractors to provide the opportunity to learn about the aims of each project, to demonstrate the capabilities and the outline the challenges faced. It will also hold a joint demonstration event towards the end of phase 1 featuring a mix of live (outdoor) demonstrations and (indoor) conference-style presentations, which will be followed by submissions for phase two of the initiative. This will focus on system development and integration to improve autonomous system performance and suitability for military environments to produce a prototype system capability. Participants are being asked to address three key challenges:
· Challenge 1: unmanned air and ground load carrying platforms
· Challenge 2: technologies and systems to allow load carrying platforms to operate autonomously
· Challenge 3: technologies to autonomously predict, plan, track and optimise resupply demands from military users
Phase three of the initiative is expected to begin in 2019 when DASA will work with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the British Army to support a longer-term period of trials and evaluation.