February 9th, 2021, Colorado Springs, CO USA —Mountain Horse Solutions, a U.S. Defense and Mission Critical Equipment Supplier, and two groups from the United Kingdom, tpgroup and Digital Concepts Engineering Ltd (DCE), together have been awarded a nine-month contract to develop and demonstrate fully autonomous targets to the United States Air Force (USAF). The targets are ultimately intended to simulate convoys of multiple vehicle types moving at speed to provide a high level of realism for pilots during targeting and strike training and munition capability assessment missions.
Under the agreement, the Mountain Horse Solutions team will develop and build a prototype target which will be demonstrated to the USAF in Spring 2021. The target will be developed using innovative technology including DCE’s Marionette system and the group’s North* path planning software. These technologies are commercially proven and are being modified to meet the needs of the USAF, therefore providing a low risk, but a highly capable system for the USAF.
“Our joint team brings incredible expertise, knowledge, and experience in automotive autonomy to the USAF project,” says Bill Allen, President, Mountain Horse Solutions. “Together, we’re introducing game-changing technology that has potential cost-effective benefits in how training realism takes place for combat pilots, ensuring the USAF maintains its surveillance, targeting, and lethality advantage over our adversaries.”
John Shimell, Head of Autonomy, tpgroup explains, “The challenge with this project is that the autonomous targets have to function in a GPS denied environment. Our team has a very innovative way of achieving this and the USAF clearly saw the benefit in our proposal. We’re very excited to demonstrate to the USAF the full capability that our joint team brings.”
Lionel Nierop, Director, Digital Concepts Engineering says, “We have already demonstrated our technology on the UK’s Warrior Armored Vehicle, showing that our Marionette™ ‘toolkit’ can convert any vehicle to autonomous use quickly and cost-effectively. Our team has the capability to provide fleets of military vehicles converted to autonomous use for the USAF to conduct their training.”
The demonstration contract has the potential to be converted into a long-term supply contract, providing autonomous targets to the USAF for up to 10 years.
Photo courtesy Mountain Horse Solutions