Digital Concepts Engineering Ltd (DCE) has won a contract in the UK government’s Defence and Security Accelerator’s (DASA) Map the Gap competition to develop a semiautonomous reconnaissance and survey system that will help troops safely and stealthily advance into enemy territory over water.
Hinckley-based DCE will lead its part of the Map the Gap industry team with a vehicle based on their rugged X series of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which incorporates DCE’s Marionette robotic vehicle architecture, the heart of the Map the Gap solution. Other organisations and technologies supporting DCE’s bid are Jacobs’ 6th Sense data analytics, drones & autonomous routing provided by Frazer-Nash Consultancy and Eijkelkamp Geopoint SoilSolutions’ ground sampling expertise.
Map the Gap ground surveys will be carried out using a submersible ROV carrying data sensors, soil sampling tools and sonar equipment, while the surrounding area will be scanned from the air by drone. The Map the Gap competition was run by DASA on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
The programme covers two phases for the development and demonstration of a number of system demonstrators able to tackle the key issues of gap crossing survey. The total funding for Phase 1 of the Map the Gap programme is approximately £1.2m, with a further £2.5m anticipated for Phase 2 activities.
Robert Hammond-Smith, DASA Delivery Manager for Map the Gap, said: “Our vision is to ultimately remove personnel from these dangerous tasks with a remote system that allows more crossing locations to be surveyed, increasing the choices available to commanders and giving an opportunity to surprise the enemy.”
Lionel Nierop, DCE’S Business Development and Operations Director, commented: “We are delighted to have won a contract on DASA’s prestigious and technically demanding Map the Gap competition. DCE’s successful bid with our X-4 ROV and our Marionette universal control system builds on our previous work in defence and nuclear applications.”
“This win demonstrates the opportunities presented by long-term collaboration between a wide range of innovative companies, working alongside the government, and we are looking forward to successfully meeting the Map the Gap challenge together.” –shp/iz (UK MOD pix)