The government of the United Kingdom is testing a new fleet of drones and robots that are designed for use in various hazardous environments in the country and on foreign battlefields.
A research effort is worth £3 million and is called as Project Minerva. It includes the production of drones that designed to climb stairs and robots that weigh less than a bar of soap, which are aimed to reduce the risk to troops or emergency services when they are compelled to operate in environments that involve biological materials or hazardous chemical.
Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary of the UK announced the said tests. He stated: “Following the reckless nerve agent attack in Salisbury this year, we have seen the bravery and professionalism of our Armed Forces, emergency services and MOD scientists.”
He added: “This project will ensure we stay at the forefront of dealing with such heinous attacks, whether on our streets or on foreign battlefields.”
The said project was jointly funded by the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence. It was initially launched in 2016. Its first phase closed last year. It awarded more than £1.6 million to various academic institutions and businesses to develop proposed defence projects. These included various small robots that designed for tackling biological threats and dangerous chemicals.
Police officers, troops, and scientists tested some of the first concepts of Minerva over the past two weeks. It tested the speed of the robots against current processes in simulated environments.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is leading the said project. Its head of Autonomy, Peter Stockel, stated: “These two weeks of trials see the culmination of over 18 months of work to realise an exciting vision, which could see robots and humans working together in demanding situations and potentially save lives when dealing with incidents involving hazardous substances.”
He continued: “With continued involvement across Government, and demonstration with the user community, we aim to mature this emergent capability to test the ‘art of the possible’ and accelerate this into the hands of the prospective users for further operational evaluation, both for MOD and the Home Office.”