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Defence

BMT SPARO project secures British Army funding

In a major development for the BMT SPARO project, the British Army’s Futures Directorate has provided funding to build, supply and demonstrate the latest prototype for UK medics who took part in Project CONVERGENCE, the premier US Army experimentation exercise in March.

Above:  BMT SPARO safely delivers payloads with precision in challenging environments.
© BMT 2024, All Rights Reserved

BMT SPARO is a small, suspended air-ground payload transfer device demonstrating a globally novel approach set to transform precision deliveries from drones. By allowing the aircraft to remain hundreds of feet above a destination throughout delivery, BMT SPARO elegantly avoids fundamental problems associated with operating large, noisy, hazardous drones close to people and infrastructure on the ground, especially in challenging environments.

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This contract award highlights the growing importance of autonomous logistics within defence and BMT SPARO's role in making ‘drone delivery’ feasible in challenging and hostile environments. The contract is aligned with the Army’s strategic vision for modernisation and utilising advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems.

The funding underlines the Army’s willingness to fund innovation and to investigate the potential benefits BMT SPARO offers defence. It also allows BMT to accelerate the commercialisation of the technology into broader applications and markets in collaboration with established partners.

Demonstration at US Army’s Project CONVERGENCE 2024
Specifically, the contract was to build, demonstrate and supply the latest BMT SPARO prototype for Military Capability Plans - CSS part of the Army's Futures Directorate. The prototype was used for extensive experimentation with end users at Project CONVERGENCE, the premier US Army experimentation exercise.

The objective was to understand how the robust device can augment drones to supply urgent medical equipment to medical personnel in the most demanding, hostile environments while simultaneously being precise, safe and survivable.

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Above: BMT SPARO at Project CONVERGENCE in the USA last month.
© BMT 2024, All Rights Reserved

James Campbell, BMT SPARO and Emerging Products Manager at BMT, commented: “BMT SPARO's progression since 2019 and its initial acceptance from a government-customer, signals the dawn of a new type of robot: a small, safe, and quiet device suspended under a logistics aircraft that takes over responsibility for payload delivery, better suited to challenging and sensitive environments. This small, highly ruggedised robotic device could even autonomously collect packages as well as deliver them without the need for infrastructure on the ground."

Phil Metcalfe, Regional Business Director for UK and Europe at BMT, said: “As drone technology and its use in challenging situations accelerates, BMT’s SPARO autonomous delivery device is a safe, simple and cost-effective solution to the problem of using drones to deliver payloads in difficult environments. This is a great example of what BMT prides itself on – ‘Innovating to provide engineering solutions to today’s pressing challenges’.”

BMT’s development partner, Dr Steve Wright from Wright Airborne Computing, remarked: “During 30 years of working in aerospace, I have not seen anything like the surge in new aircraft, systems, and applications that has happened in the last five years. BMT SPARO is a perfect example of this revolution, fuelled by a happy convergence of 21st-century technologies harnessed together by computers and software that engineers like me could only dream about 30 years ago.”

Beyond military applications, BMT SPARO holds wider potential across areas such as manned helicopter operations, maritime deliveries, maintenance support and emergency services.

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