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UK FCG acquires nUAS from Elbit Systems and Atlas Dynamics

DefendTex D40 nano-unmanned aerial vehicle. (UK MoD Crown Copyright 2021)

UK Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Future Capability Group (FCG) acquired nano-unmanned aerial vehicles (nUAS) from Elbit Systems and Atlas Dynamics, as part of the British Army's Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) project, Dominic Ferrett, engineering manager, Future Capability Group, informed Janes on 10 March at the British Army's robotics and autonomous systems strategy launch.

According to Ferret, FCG procured five Elbit Systems' Torch-X RAS systems, comprising six UAS per system. The company is incorporating Easy Aerial's ‘Falcon' UAS as part of their system.

The “Torch-X RAS is a platform-agnostic solution that provides automated mission management aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as full autonomy solutions for the platform level”, Elbit Systems stated.

FCG also acquired five AtlasNEST units from Atlas Dynamics, with each system comprising four UAS and a nest. The system incorporates a ‘hive' system, which can be placed onto a vehicle, the UAS can then autonomously take-off, land, and return to the nest to swap its batteries, Ferret added.

The development and delivery of a swarming capability – spiral 5 – is part of the future human-machine teaming programme delivered by the Expeditionary Robotics Centre of Expertise (ERCoE) on behalf of the British Army.

The competition for spiral 5 took only a month to complete, with contracts having been awarded a few weeks ago, he said.

ERCoE will be conducting trials with both systems on Salisbury Plain in the coming months to demonstrate their swarm capabilities, he said.

Specifically, ERCoE expects to conduct trials with the AtlasNEST system, with one operator handling a swarm of six UAS performing missions such as search-and-discover and 24-hour CCTV monitoring, Ferret noted.

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