Students and Industry Collaborate to Identify Novel Tactics in Controlling UAV

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BAE Systems has sponsored a cross-university competition bringing together four teams of university students in a game of offence and defense.

The teams from Cranfield University, The University of Manchester and University of Strathclyde we challenged to develop the most effective solution to take control over unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in the event of a swarm attack. 

The scenario was developed to protect urban spaces, airfields and airport from real and emerging threats from UAV’s. Increasingly capable UAV’s are becoming more affordable and easy to source, so there is a need to counter these systems in a robust and affordable manner using innovative solutions. Attacks could cause catastrophic damage to aircraft and infrastructure.

“With autonomy and AI being a vital part of what we do, this challenge offered the perfect blend of exploring the art of the possible whilst testing the student’s abilities in this important field. In essence, we need to understand what swarming means as a threat and to very carefully consider where it might have appropriate uses,” said Professor Nick Colosimo, principal technologist at BAE Systems.

The event, held last week, highlighted the importance of using technology and applying innovative thinking in this type of scenario.


The students had to use a combination of technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, together with innovative thinking and close cooperation between UAVs to be in with a chance of winning an award. They had the opportunity to showcase their strategies in action as the four teams competed against each other in a round robin tournament.

Cranfield University is one of BAE Systems’ strategic university partners. Collaboration with universities is vital for BAE Systems in developing future technologies and also supporting the next generation of engineers by using topical and engaging projects to create excitement around engineering.

Professor Antonios Tsourdos, Head of the Centre for Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems at Cranfield University, said: “Cranfield University and BAE Systems have a long-term relationship having worked closely together on many research projects. 

“The BAE Systems Swarm event is a great way of utilising the fact that we are one of few universities to have our own airport to provide students with the means to demonstrate some of the innovative ideas which might be applied to solve real-life challenges.”



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