Issue 40 Unmanned Systems Technology October/November 2021 ANYbotics ANYmal D l AI systems focus l Aquatic Drones Phoenix 5 l Space vehicles insight l Sky Eye Rapier X-25 l FlyingBasket FB3 l GCS focus l AUVSI Xponential 2021

18 T he ability of defence organisations to respond to the constantly evolving world of asymmetric warfare can be enhanced hugely through technological support from small, agile teams of innovators who can produce highly specialised solutions on the fly. However, channels of communication and funding in the defence world have typically not favoured the inventions of small-to-medium enterprises, let alone the start-ups in the autonomous systems space. This is spurring interest from the military in ways to bridge that gap. For example, open-source autopilots can enable patches and improvements of autonomy software with the rapidity of individual programmers working from home, as discussed in our recent focus on Autopilots ( UST 39, June/July 2021). An alternative approach is to create organisations that serve as matchmakers, taking problems identified by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and connecting them with those enterprise solutions best targeted to resolve them efficiently and creatively. That is the explicit purpose of Futures Lab, a service launched earlier this year as part of the Engineering Delivery Partner (EDP) programme by which the UK MoD’s DE&S (Defence Equipment & Support) procurement agency acquires engineering services. By matching the most cutting-edge solutions from industry and academia with key strategic concerns highlighted by the MoD, Futures Lab stands to accelerate the adoption and deployment of a number of critical autonomous vehicle technologies. Simon Galt is managing director of the Aurora Engineering Partnership (AEP), a network of around 200 engineering suppliers across the UK led by a consortium of QinetiQ, Atkins and BMT Group. As such, he is tasked with spearheading Futures Lab’s efforts to extract the best possible solutions from private- sector and university laboratories for solving the most intractable military problems. Particular problems include strategic concerns such as over-reliance on fossil fuels and manpower for fielding vehicles The Aurora Engineering Partnership’s managing director tells Rory Jackson how this supplier network finds and applies solutions to military problems Military solutions October/November 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology