Five industry and university collaborations have been selected to receive funding through the first round of calls via the Growing Autonomous Mission Management Applications (GAMMA) Programme and are launching in Autumn 2013.
Suave Enterprises UAV Enterprises Ltd (trading as Suave Aerial Photographers), Blue Bear Systems Research, Create Technologies Ltd (Createc) and GARG Anaesthetic Services (GAS) Ltd were successful in their applications and will develop autonomous systems technology jointly with North West universities.
The GAMMA Programme, funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, is led by the North West Aerospace Alliance in partnership with BAE Systems, National Nuclear Laboratories and the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster, Salford, Central Lancashire and Liverpool, which incorporates the Virtual Engineering Centre.
The aim of the GAMMA Programme is to open up opportunities for SMEs to market their technologies in a new and emerging sector that is otherwise very difficult to access. This new market will provide a sustainable business for SMEs in software upgrades, maintenance and sensing technology and create revenue for them through licensing agreements.
GAMMA engages with SMEs in the autonomous systems supply chain and offers them mentoring and technology development support primarily with existing technologies which can be developed jointly with lead partners to support autonomous systems. It also creates opportunities for the SMEs to exploit matured IP in other market areas.
Suave Enterprises UAV Enterprises Ltd will work in partnership with the University of Manchester on a project to exploit real-time 3D photogrammetry. Their aim is to grow a small high tech aerial photography company by expanding the business from service provision into mixed software development and supply. Suave are currently one of the market leaders in service provision and have a key insight into the emerging needs of future end users for aerial mapping.
Bedfordshire-based Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd will collaborate with the University of Liverpool and its Virtual Engineering Centre on a civil engineering change detection project. This will seek to demonstrate the feasibility of running change detection algorithms in conjunction with a small UAV to provide analysis and interpretation of any detected changes. The solutions could be employed by surveyors on large construction sites, employing GAMMA-enabled small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to generate regular status updates using minimal onsite staff and with the capability for updates on demand. The system could both monitor and identify underutilised equipment and then direct plant and personnel to specific locations, generating valuable savings in time and money.
The consortium of Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd and Createc are collaborating with Salford University on the “RISER” Project. The two companies have developed an airborne, mobile robot solution called ‘Remote Intelligent Survey Equipment for Radiation’ (RISER). The system combines a miniature rotary UAS with novel radiation detection and mapping software to address the problem of access while improving speed and accuracy of surveys and minimising radiation dose to employees.
The project consists of a miniature rotary wing UAS developed by Blue Bear, providing the ability to hover and manoeuvre within complex, industrial environments. Createc’s N-Visage radiation mapping software combined with a gamma radiation spectrometer will be hosted on-board the UAS.
The project aims to demonstrate the utility of a small rotary wing UAS in the retrieval of radiation data in order to undertake off-line processing of real data (imagery and radioactivity sensor data) to demonstrate smart payload management, data link management and data storage capabilities. In addition, it shall be demonstrated that autonomous data interpretation and filtering of real data can be used to provide text updates to a GCS operator. In particular, this project will focus on the reactive element of such a system to outputs from the sensor system.
In partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd and Createc will develop an on board detection and tracking project.
This collaborative project aims to demonstrate a robust target identification algorithm for reliable identification of ground based targets from a UAV and a reactive mission management algorithm for re-tasking a mall UAV as targets are identified. Working with end users, they will determine the top-level requirements and develop a system for the control station and user interface.
GAS Ltd in partnership with Lancaster University will progress a traffic analysis project which will develop and demonstrate software to mine road-traffic behaviour from the traffic videos obtained from cameras installed on unmanned aerial vehicles. Ultimately, the aim is to collaborate with the supply chain to identify the technology areas that the developed software can support.
There is funding for further projects available through the GAMMA programme. An open funding call allows GAMMA related applications to be submitted at any time up to 31st March 2014 and a second round of funding calls will be made in late 2013.
Further information can be found on our website www.gammaprogramme.co.uk