The Bug is a nano-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighing 196g – similar to the weight of a smartphone – with 40 minute battery life and a 2km range. It boasts a stealthy low visual profile and the ability to fly even in strong winds of more than 50mph. It was the only nano-UAV able to cope with the uncompromising weather during a recent Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) event hosted by the Ministry of Defence’s Future Capability Group.
James Gerard, Principal Technologist at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business said: “We delivered the Bug in partnership with UAVTEK, an SME that designs and builds UAVs from its workshop in the Cotswolds. Our experience in developing large volumes of secure hardware means we were able to help the team turn the excellent design into a real product which our Armed Forces can use. This kind of collaboration is happening right across BAE Systems and is a great way to quickly get the best thinking from small companies into the hands of military users.”
Gerard went on to explain that, “In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what’s around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update. Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions.”
Innovations at the annual AWE event are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities, this year focusing on Agile Command, Control and Communication (C3) space suitable for rapid exploitation. Emphasis is placed on innovations which push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user whilst giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers.
“BAE Systems has been extremely supportive of us as an SME and the team has shared procedural knowledge to improve our engineering processes and practices. BAE Systems has effectively offered us a mentoring partnership and supported us in a variety of activities, whilst still enabling us to remain an agile SME and keep our core offerings and DNA,” said Jenna Copley, Director at UAVTEK.
The teams are now working on the next developments on the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment and capabilities which could be added, as well as how the Bug could be integrated with other military equipment.