Innovative autonomous technologies for last-mile resupply

Keeping personnel off the roads is the main driver of the emerging requirement to use unmanned systems to perform resupply missions. Add to this the advantages that comes with using an autonomous technology that never gets tired, never loses its cognitive edge, and takes human error out of the equation, and unmanned technology becomes even more attractive.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has challenged industry and academia to design autonomous systems to resupply frontline troops. As part of the its innovation initiative, £3m has been invested in the next stage of the Innovation Autonomy Challenge which will focus on the ‘last mile’ of support – getting supplies to troops. The Defense establishment draws on the rapid progress of the private sector to leverage the success of technologies such as delivery drones.

According to, the idea of using unmanned ground and aerial vehicles to resupply the front line is nothing new. Perhaps the most advanced instance of the technology is the US Marine Corps’ deployment of the unmanned K-MAX helicopter in Afghanistan, supplying fuel, food, ammunition and more.
The majority of systems have been developed for the US military market in (often) long running, big ticket programs with complex requirements.

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