DroneUp partners with NATO to demonstrate last-mile military drone deliveries

DroneUp has recently partnered with North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allied Command Transformation, Joint Force Development Directorate, Operational Experimentation branch in an experiment designed to determine if autonomous delivery of a specified payload to identified recipients under field conditions could be proven viable. According to a company press release: “The experiment participants conducted the exercise on September 21, 2020, in Lawrenceville, Virginia. The Brunswick County location provided a safe field environment to test the capabilities of the autonomous resupply experiment. The special operations experimental team also included: Pale Horse Weapons Institute, Daniel Defense, Ultimate Training Munitions (UTM), and WeaponLogic.”

The statement continues: DroneUp provided a patent-pending technology delivery solution and experiment execution for the operational experiment, which was led by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Atkinson, MBE, British Army. The experiment requirements included: (1) Identifying and delivering a specified payload to three different recipients; (2) Delivering payloads unique to each recipient; (3) Drones locating the recipient; (4) Drones delivering the payload autonomously (pilotless); and, (5) Visual confirmation of the correct unique payload. Further, the requirements had to prove where the recipient was either static or mobile.

“Drone deliveries create numerous opportunities. By allowing for variable delivery destinations that can be transmitted and updated in real-time, we’ve taken it to orders of magnitude over the traditional point-to-point drops. Additionally, when paired with automated logistics, the ability to get the right supplies, to the right people, at just-in-time speed creates a powerful platform for land, sea, and air,” said John Vernon, CTO of DroneUp. “By combining the right location information, signaling, and management tools, we’ve created an intermodal solution that quickly addresses what is needed and the best way to get it where it needs to go. Then we’ve placed the power in the requestor’s hands to determine when, how, and where the delivery will take place. We see this as a game-changing opportunity.”

Through the use of dedicated colored UTM training ammunition DroneUp, OPEX, and the special operations teams tested and demonstrated the accuracy and reliability of an autonomous drone in take-off, flight, location of, and delivery to a specified recipient in open terrain – with no external assistance. DroneUp and OPEX found that the experiment was successful and this capability has vast utility across numerous military and deployed roles, but especially in emergency medical resupply and the assistance of isolated personnel. The experiment findings and data will be shared across several Allied Command Transformation branches for further development of concepts.

“ACT is committed to energizing innovation that specifically targets the military utility of emerging technology,” said Brigadier General Dieter KOHL, German Army, Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Innovation Champion. “Concept Development and Experimentation is a crucial element of Warfare Development, the ‘Autonomous Last-Mile Experiment’ sets an example for assessing possible military applications of new technologies.”

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