Grand Challenge

This project consisted of research into technology and conceptual goals for unmanned vehicles, with the objective of producing a complete system that would be semi-autonomous and able to detect, identify, monitor and report the position of a number of specific threats within an urban environment.

The consortium comprised the following organisations:

Silicon Valley Group
IDUS Consultancy Ltd
Kingston University
University of Reading
Smith Engineering (GB) Ltd

The Challenge:
To develop a robust autonomous system that provides real-time or near real-time intelligence data against certain types of threats in an urban environment is a challenge in itself. To have a system that has extremely low visual and acoustic signatures with resistance to countermeasures is certainly a grand challenge.
The ground-breaking RoboHumatics© principles and tuned image recognition software being developed by the two Universities in the consortium, together with a novel solution to detect IED command wires by IDUS Consultancy, provides an extremely sound base upon which to develop the Silicon Valley semi-autonomous portable threat identification system (APHIDS).

The System

The Silicon Valley APHIDS initiative is based upon a user-optimised command/control system that has the capability to control multiple platforms and sensor suites, both air and ground based, as well as having a modular interface potential to process sensor data and output with an effective HMI display. The integration and processing of electro-optical and audio sensor data, together with specialist targeted other data, enables a high degree of confidence to be established in data capture and threat assessment. The consortium does not underestimate the challenge of integrating a number of emerging technologies, but believes that the unique range of skills amongst its members bodes well in its endeavours to produce a prototype APHIDS system that will be functional in summer 2008.

The Silicon Valley consortium has incorporated a defined exploitation strategy into the programme with high hopes in developing a number of related and valuable products from this interesting research project.Richard May of IDUS Consultancy explained the deployment of the Moonbuggy vehicles which act in tandem with the UAV segment. The Moonbuggies were developed by Smith Engineering.The Diesel Moonbuggy unmanned ground vehicle is designed as a heavy payload sensor platform.

Able to be rapidly deployed by a single operator the Moonbuggy UGV is ideally suited for emergency incident support, large area survey and rapid deployment.
The Moonbuggy EOD unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is designed for rapid deployment and use in dealing with EOD and IED situations. The Moonbuggy UGV can be used in any CBRN role where remote inspection and handling is requiredAble to be transported using a standard off road trailer the Moonbuggy EOD robot can be deployed using a single operator. With a top speed of 12mph it can be quickly deployed to a work area.The Moonbuggy UGV has a modular control system and easily serviced diesel engine which gives reliable field operation without the need for specialist support.

The moonbuggy UGV can carry a range of optional sensors including radiation, gas and biological. Readings from the sensors are overlaid onto the video output display.
Control options
433MHz RF 1km+
50m cable umbilical
1Km+ single use fiber optic cartridge
Video transmission options
1.3GHz 1Km near line of sight RF link
50m cable umbilical
1Km+ single use fiber optic cartridge
Video system options
Thermal imager

Video system

A 4-camera system with on screen display of vehicle data. Wide angle navigation cameras front and rear, Pan-tilt zoom and arm camera. Each camera can be viewed individually full screen as part of a quad display.


The Moonbuggy Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) when equipped with stretchers can recover two casualties over rough terrain. The Moonbuggy can also carry radiation detector and other environmental sensors. The Moonbuggy UGV with its six wheel drive and high manoeuvrability can be used in areas inaccessible to standard vehicles.It can take up to 8 rescuers to recover two casualties over rough terrain. Using the Moonbuggy UGV the two casualties can be recovered using only two rescuers offering reduced risk to personnel. It can also be used to monitor the incident and provide live video feed to a command post and medical personnel.

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