Feeds

BAE 'skips a generation' in killer robot tech

The one where it was cheap, to be exact

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Farnborough UK-headquartered arms globocorp BAE Systems plc has shown off a raft of new robotic concepts this week at the Farnborough Air Show. But the newest and biggest kid on the BAE droidplane block is the Mantis, a large and powerful twin-engined technology demonstrator project whose wraps came off on Monday for the ceremonial inking of an MoD contract.

The Reg got a chance this morning to walk around the Mantis concept model here at Farnborough, and Steve Wright of BAE's Autonomous Systems & Future Capability arm talked us through it.

BAE's Mantis demonstrator concept

UAVs - now with unnecessary delays and duplicate costs.

In essence, it's a fairly normal unmanned aerial vehicle of the same general type as the well-known American Predator and Predator-B/Reaper. The exact capabilities and subsystems are being decided, but Mantis will have visible and infrared imaging, a ground-scanning radar, and in all probability a laser-dot pointer for precision guided munitions. The model here at Farnborough was shown with mockup smartbombs and "Brimstone" missiles attached, too (Brimstone is the Europeanised version of the successful Hellfire tankbuster, already employed on attack helicopters and Predators).

The Mantis has some special sauce not usually seen on current Predators and such - it will use onboard processing, allowing much less bandwidth to be used in downloading radar data. This potentially spares the British forces' pay-as-you-go PFI satcomms budget, and could be a popular feature. Likewise, the Mantis is intended to fly autonomously as much as possible, avoiding the severe pilot-manpower burdens associated with most of the present-day Predator fleet.

“As a company, we have not got drawn into the ‘me too’ group of unmanned air vehicles,” said BAE robocraft chief Mark Kane in a statement earlier this week.

“We have skipped a generation and whereas most current UAVs are remotely piloted or have some automatic functions, ours are fully autonomous.”

Even so, there's nothing really new here. Onboard processing has already been demonstrated on much smaller and cheaper platforms, ones already flying. And the US Army's new Predator variant, the Sky Warrior, is intended to land, take off and fly itself under the direction of a single, relatively cheap operator rather than needing two-man crews headed up by an expensive pilot round the clock. The Sky Warrior is already operational above Afghanistan.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.