back to article Can you make a warzone delivery drone? UK.gov wants to give you cash

The Ministry of Defence is looking for drone startups to throw their hats into the ring for a Just-Eat-for-bullets ‘bot competition. The two-stage competition being run by the MoD focuses on “last-mile supply” systems. As the camo-wearing Sir Humphries put it: “Last-mile resupply involves delivery of combat materials from a …

Silver badge
Thumb Up

I'm going to make a load of money from developing an EMP system to take down these drones.

6
1
Bronze badge

Re: make money from developing an EMP system

Nope. Prior art https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Zvpx9fFsM.

Battelle just shipped hundreds of DroneDefenders to Mosul.

4
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

EMP

I'm going to round up all the pre-transistor components and ... oh wait, probably too big to fly. PP

1
0
MAF
Joke

Existing system?

Can't they just use Amazon like everyone else?

:-)

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Existing system?

Can't they just use Amazon like everyone else?

Every grunt goes into the field with a Bullets-R-Us Dash button.

11
0
MAF

Re: Existing system?

Gives a whole new meaning to One-day Rush....

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Existing system?

Slogan ideas:

"Within 30 minutes or it's free!"

We're the military, it's always free.

"When it absolutely, positively has to be there before everyone is dead."

Hmm, not bad but still needs work.

4
0
Silver badge

'“Phase 1 contracts are likely to be worth between £40,000 and £80,000 and last up to 6 months,” said the MoD.'

Well that'll just about cover a glossy presentation and a couple of DJI drones from Maplins. It's almost like MoD aren't serious about it...

10
1
Silver badge

My exact thought

There is no way in hell you can even sketch out the designs for anything even remotely innovative with that amount of money.

8
1
Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Snouts and Pork Barrels

Perhaps they've intentionally pitched it so the usual suspects won't be interested. PP

4
1
Silver badge

Re: Snouts and Pork Barrels

Intentionally pitched? You bet. Only, the intention will be to create a scenario that will ensure that in the end the contracts will have to go to the usual suspects, again.

"Despite all our efforts and funding, no independent developer came up with a viable concept. So, in the interests of our nation's safety, we see no alternative to awarding the contract to BAE."

14
0
Anonymous Coward

The 40 to 80 is part of the funding you will use to get more funding from VC's then once you have a finished product the military pay you 24 mil instead of 25 mil if you ever get that far.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: My exact thought

"There is no way in hell you can even sketch out the designs for anything even remotely innovative with that amount of money."

Not only that... From the article:

"...autonomously predict resupply demands from frontline troops..."

How can a drone predict resupply demands without also being able to predict the duration and outcome of the battle?

5
0
Terminator

Re: My exact thought

"HEYYY! It looks like you're losing a gun-battle. Would you like some help?"

12
0
Silver badge

Re: My exact thought

"...autonomously predict resupply demands from frontline troops..."

def predict_squaddy_supply():

return list[porn, drink, chocolate biscuits]

0
0
Silver badge

It sounds like our SBIR programs. Phase 1 is typically little more than a feasibility study to generate ideas and frequently select the concept that moves to phase 2. Essentially the large corps will have one person and maybe a few interns study up and find something worth pursuing.

Phase 2 will be when the prototype stage is reached and is worth more money since they'll be looking for a proof of concept demonstrator. This is typically 6-24 months depending on complexity.

Phase 3 is moving to production and possibly commercialization. This is the big dollar part where the number of significant digits in the cost is doubled or more. The discussion often contains the phrase "certainly General, I believe we can get the price per unit down to £500,000 if you're willing to sign a contract for only 50,000 units."

1
0
Silver badge

Re: My exact thought

> There is no way in hell you can even sketch out the designs for anything even remotely innovative with that amount of money.

'corse you can. Give me £40,000 and I'll "draw out" my sketch for an industrial sized tee-shirt canon. One that is specially designed to deliver stuff over the last mile to the front line. And being gas powered, it's probably EMP proof, too.

Innovative enough?

0
0
Bronze badge

until you realize it has to carry atleast 15kg for a weeks worth of cover fire

0
0
Silver badge

Think outside the box

Why not just put the drones in the frontline instead of the meatware? Eliminate need for resupply - just fly home to pick up a new battery pack for the frikkin' laser.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Think outside the box

Because the queen is going to look silly pinning a medal on a DJI

0
0
Silver badge
Devil

So Theresa May came back from Saudi with a shopping list

Forgive me if I'm less than enthusiastic.

5
0

When you think about it, isn't there a lot of obvious work to be done here?

Ok - step one. Soldier has his weapons fitted / manufactured in such a manner as to send a bluetooth notification to an Android device every time a consumable resource (like a bullet) is used. This, assuming the android device knows the "initial stock", allows the Android device to:

1 / Periodically send inventory back to central server, allowing the back office boys to order a resupply as needed.

2 / Order it's own resupply once inventory reaches a certain level / if soldier requests it.

Android device connects by cell network (Army takes its own onto the battlefield) to command, and also to assigned drone. Provides location updates, allowing the drone to fly to soldier and follow an instruction like "drop it 1 meter south of my position".

Another nice advantage of this is that you can set your weapons to only fire when connected to your Android device - rendering the gun useless to Tommy Terrorist if he manages to prize it from your cold dead fingers. Just in case he does, the Android device has to receive authorisation from command every 2 or 3 days - shutting down if none received.

Those are just a few quick ideas...

0
6
Silver badge

Re: When you think about it, isn't there a lot of obvious work to be done here?

Those are just a few quick ideas...

And, unfortunately, terrible ones

6
0

Re: When you think about it, isn't there a lot of obvious work to be done here?

In the mean time, the enemy deploys their drones which drop a grenade on every source of bluetooth signal...

10
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: When you think about it, isn't there a lot of obvious work to be done here?

@ Martin Milan

Where's the Samsung fridge and the toaster come into this then? I mean, someone's got to discuss the requirements ...

1
0
Silver badge

Re: When you think about it, isn't there a lot of obvious work to be done here?

Can see that, mind you, the idea of a soldier wearing camo and hiding behind a rock while broadcasting on bluetooth where he is seems a little odd...

Next will be drones designed to pick up the same info and shoot the requesting squadie

1
0
Silver badge
Terminator

£40k just about covers a second-hand Transit, a handful of Raspberry Pi's and some servos, but then what more do you need?

4
0
Silver badge

Diesel.

5
0
Silver badge

Those drones will deliver the ammo to the side that employs the better hacking talent. Which may not neccessarily be the side that owns the drones.

7
0
Silver badge

Given the suggested budget and the Gov's less than stellar record with with third-party IT suppliers, I think it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that the bad guy's brother's, mate who's bored DDOS'ing websites will jump at the chance. Take charge of a load of fully loaded drones carrying very useful ammo and other battlefield supplies.

2
0
Silver badge

So the MOD want drones to deliver supplies to troops on the ground. Shouldn't they be equipping our troops with decent basic equipment that works before investing in drones?

11
0
Silver badge

Decent equipment... oh really

Why would you want to do that? The government sends our troops to war to get them killed and thus cut down on the redundancy and pensions bills.

Remember how much Thatcher wanted to cut the RN, Airforce and Army prior to the Falklands (in part the moving of the one RN boat in the area is thought to have contributed to the Argies thinking we didn't care about the islands). Do'nt forget that she got rid of those that survived. Similarly with Blair and Iraq... Its a pattern, they decide to cut the military and send it to war... every time.

3
0

Game It

Create a suitable titled war based drone delivery and destruction system game.

Re-create the actual battlefield realistically.

Have two sides deliverers vs destroyers.

Create ladder based tournaments/leagues

With a few weeks take the top 2-5% of the deliverers have them controlling actual drones (no need to them).

They continue to "play" without realising they are doing actual supply runs.

Update the game when new theaters start or the destroyers get new anti-drone weapons.

Rinse & repeat you'll get the best twitch based gamers doing all the work for free.

£40k please :)

6
0
Thumb Up

Re: Game It

That is somewhat "Last Starfighter"-ish, but I like it.

I was thinking of the ARPG aspect of the battlefield delivery concept. If I saw an enemy supply drone flying overhead, I'm not sure I could resist the urge to stop fighting long enough to try shooting it down... not for the purpose of denying resources to my enemy, but rather to find out what phat lewt it's carrying. Almost as good as "Diablo".

1
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

I smell a grooming excercise.

1)Several companies do accept the challenge

2)Company wins challenge.

3)Company gets bought by BAe

4)BAe get follow on contract and X years late deliver the same capacity device at 10 000% more expensive.

5)Retired civil servant gets nice little executive directorship with BAe.

4
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Obligatory

Hey, Sarge - what's that drone just brought us?

Three and fourpence and a couple of dance tickets lad.

D'oh.

7
0
Gold badge
Pint

I did not realize HMG had a "Small Business Research Initiative programme

But it does. Details here

May be of interest to El Reg readers looking to raise a few zlottys for some neat idea they've been percolating in their heads for a while.

Or at least a few beer tokens played properly.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I did not realize HMG had a "Small Business Research Initiative programme

Similar link for readers on the US side of the pond.

1
0
Gold badge

US SBIR has been active for decades. UK SBIR started in 2009.

Hence I doubted many El Reg readers even knew it existed.

Looking at the details a bit more (SBIR's are not just MoD) the base line is 5Kg in a 1m cube at 8kph to a 3Km radius with up to 30km range on one tank of fuel.

What they'd really like is 50Kg up to a "NATO cubic pallet load" size (whatever that is) at >30kmh or the speed of a "quad bike and JSP800 trailer" over this terrain if you're providing a land vehicle. Airborne is to 15Kfeet and 20m/s winds. GPS will not be spoofed but cannot be relied upon but soldiers can be carrying beacons. Full details here

For some reason I keep thinking of this fellow obviously without the crew.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: US SBIR has been active for decades. UK SBIR started in 2009.

"Looking at the details a bit more (SBIR's are not just MoD) the base line is 5Kg in a 1m cube at 8kph to a 3Km radius with up to 30km range on one tank of fuel."

Hmm, Trained dog with backpack. "Go get ammo, lassie!"

Dog runs to supply base, gets fed, watered, 15 minute rest, sent back.

"Good girl, Lassie!" "Huh? What's that girl? Timmy's down a well again? Well, sucks to be him, don't it!"

3
0
Silver badge

Re: US SBIR has been active for decades. UK SBIR started in 2009.

Giant genetically-engineered mutant carrier pigeons ?

2
0
Silver badge

really

40k for 6 months including the materials for building a prototype.

Astonishing

Given that when they admit this has failed (and blame the apparently uninterested Brits) they will then go and give Capita or whoever 40k a day for some project manager to manage a project based on him and 2 people in India its a bit of an insult

2
0
Coat

The last mile delivery

The current world record for a pumpkin chucking cannon is just over a mile at 5545 feet..

2
0
Silver badge

Re: The last mile delivery

Ammo delivered ballistically? I think the enemy'd already have that covered. ☺

2
0
N2

£40K ?

Is that all?

Just about do lunch at the Ivy for a bunch of Crapitas.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: £40K ?

if your good at engineering you can easily make a hoverbike for less

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkIc2Y5gKYM

which can carry 80 KG if someone is 13 stone. so if a payload is atleast 15 KG, you can have another 20 KG for computer system, and abit of armour

0
0
Gold badge
Coat

This looks like a job for the MiS

Men in Sheds.

Aren't they who made Britain great?

0
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017