Issue 55 Uncrewed Systems Technology Apr/May 2024 Sellafield’s UAV equipment l Applied EV Blanc Robot l Battery tech l Robotican’s Goshawk l UGVs l UAVHE RW1 rotary l Roboat UVD l Autopilots l Arkeocean UVD l UMEX 2024 l CycloTech UVD

36 “We know traditional coding is preferred by many, so we did produce an API and SDK for people outside of Applied EV to program certain Blanc Robot functions using traditional coding methods,” Broadbent says. Computer to body Just as the Blanc Robot can be adapted by application engineers and systems integrators for specific use-cases, the Digital Backbone, as a sensor-agnostic, monolithic solution, is expected to be available as a standalone product to other manufacturers in the future. “For another company to implement the Digital Backbone into a vehicle, we would prefer them to have an EV platform,” Broadbent says. “To control a vehicle via software you need an electrified, digital system. To make a traditional vehicle into something that can be software-defined and safety rated, Applied EV needs to significantly replace, modify or adapt the necessary components. “The real win for us is when we collaborate with an OEM to create mutual ground for collaboration. For example, with Suzuki’s platform, what they have on offer is what we call a ‘body on frame’ architecture, which relies on the idea of removing the top and being left with a ladder frame, and upon that we can build extra systems, purpose and scale.” From composites to metals Up to the fifth generation, the Blanc Robot looked very similar to a unibody chassis as it has both upper and lower stressed-skin structural elements for bearing tension and compression. “Those elements are completely hollow on the inside, and are built around the packages of batteries and compute electronics,” Broadbent says. Early in the development of the Blanc Robot, Applied EV had been interested in working with carbon fibre for its structural parts (much as the automotive industry increasingly is, and as motorsport already does), but concerns over its electromagnetic conductivity – and how that might block radio signals or cause EMI build-ups – motivated the move to glass fibre. “We ended up working with a company in Japan called Teijin Automotive Technologies, which has a US-based subsidiary called Continental Structural Plastics. They do a lot of work for automotive OEMs in strong, lightweight body panels and similar components,” Broadbent says. “Thanks to some great help from them, we were able to build a structure tying the whole ecosystem of parts together, it became immensely strong and extremely light.” From the sixth generation onwards, Applied EV has adopted ladder-frame architectures with exposed systems to better work with automotive OEMs, and widen the opportunities to commercialise and manufacture the Blanc Robot at scale. In this regard, future iterations of the structure are anticipated to utilise established automotive processes and metals, albeit with some influence from Applied EV’s side, where they see how such traditional structures could be improved or modernised for the needs of autonomous vehicles. Open navigation Notably, the Blanc Robot does not come with a sensor architecture for a few reasons. For one, Broadbent and his team view the world of autonomous navigation sensors as mature enough that there was no urgent need for Applied EV to try April/May 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The Blanc Robot’s standard battery pack contains just 51 kW/h power, which enables 400 km of range between recharges and leaves space for 1500 kg of payload or additional batteries Choosing the right tyre to minimise rolling resistance, and achieve speed and endurance targets was a key part of drivetrain development