NATO’s Autonomous Drone Delivery Experiment Works

autonomous drone deliveryDroneUp and NATO Allied Command Transformation performed an experiment to prove a new and innovative way of resupplying soldiers on the battlefield.  The experiment proved that autonomous drone delivery works.

“DroneUp 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,” says a press release.

The experiment took place on September 21, 2020 in Lawrenceville, VA and included Pale Horse autonomous drone deliveryWeapons Institute, Daniel Defense, Ultimate Training Munitions (UTM), and WeaponLogic. In summary, here’s how the autonomous drone delivery system test worked: soldiers running out of ammunition hit a button (which can be attached to their hat or clothing.) That button signals a drone to fly to that individual soldier and drop a payload – which can be unique to that individual.  Then the drone returns home for the next mission.

“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,” says the press release.  “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.”

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.

For the military, the application could have tremendous value, particularly in resupplying isolated soldiers.  For the commercial industry, autonomous drone delivery may be a game changer that could shift the way retail companies get goods to consumers.

“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.”

“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.”

See the experiment in action below.

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DroneUp “Autonomous Last-Mile Experiment” B-Roll from DroneUp on Vimeo.

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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