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Computer science experts developing critical resupply software for use in dangerous and inaccessible locations

 

Computer Science expertise at the University of Hull is being used to help develop an autonomous system capable of delivering humanitarian relief to disaster areas and supplies to troops in the field.

The University is part of a consortium taking part in the Autonomous Last Mile Resupply Competition which is looking for innovative ways to streamline distribution of supplies to dangerous and inaccessible locations. The consortium is one of five projects working in Phase 2 of the Last Mile Challenge.

It is being co-funded by the Department for International Development, Innovate UK and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Led by QinetiQ, the consortium brings together a mix of industry and academia, including the University of Hull, Malloy Aeronautics, Milrem Robotics, Roke Manor Research, IQHQ Ltd and Aberystwyth University.

The year-long project will see each organisation develop part of the system including advanced autonomous ground vehicles and drones as well as critical logistics resupply software.

For future frontline military operations, the technology could reduce risk to soldiers by removing them from the hazards of frontline logistics resupply and improving the pace of operations. It can also be used to deliver life-saving aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people in hard-to-reach locations, including in the aftermath of humanitarian disasters where aid workers can be exposed to significant dangers.

As part of the project, experts at the University of Hull are developing the critical information control system which will take orders, locate supplies, work out the best route and vehicle and then send those supplies to where they need to be.

Leading the University’s element of the project is John Murray, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the University of Hull with Research Assistants Phininder Balaghan and Craig Maddra. 

 

"Expertise within the Computer Science Department at the University of Hull is second-to-none and we are delighted to be able to use this to help create a system which will ultimately reduce the risk to those working in dangerous and inaccessible locations.” John Murray, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, University of Hull 

Professor Murray said: “Technological advances have meant that we are now able to reduce the logistical burden of planning and managing inventory and distribution routes. Using the software we are creating will help those in demanding environments plan resupply missions with much more ease. It is stressful enough being on the ground in a disaster-relief area or on the front line under fire in a war zone. We have the technology and know-how now to be able to create systems which will take an extra layer of worry and stress away. Expertise within the Computer Science Department at the University of Hull is second-to-none and we are delighted to be able to use this to help create a system which will ultimately reduce the risk to those working in dangerous and inaccessible locations.”

Those using the system will have a wrist-mounted device on which they will be able to select what they need – whether it be ammunition, medicines, shelter or other critical supplies.

Their request will go direct to personnel away from the front-line for approval before automatically being logged with the system.

The software will then take control of locating the supplies needed, as well as what vehicles and routes are quickest and best to get those supplies to those in need.

Professor Murray said: “This kind of system is vital. Troops and humanitarian aid workers have a lot of things that need doing urgently. They have not only got to look after the safety of others, but also their own people. This takes a lot of organisation and a lot of management of resources. What this system does is take a lot of that burden away from them. If they need to order something they can and they will know it will arrive. It adds a layer of support they have not previously had.” 

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