UK’s MoD shapes its UAV future with Skydio drones

Skydio MoD drone

Planners in the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) are drawing consequences from the enormous effects of small commercial drones deployed in Ukraine’s defense against Russian invaders, and are turning to top-drawer consumer tech specialists like Skydio to muscle up their own UAV assets.

Parallel to its procurement of DJI Matrice 300 RTKs that DroneDJ reported yesterday, the MoD has also ordered over $3.6 million in Skydio X2D drones designed for military, security, and first responder operation. Based on a contract signed last month, the company will deliver those in partnership with Marlborough Communications Limited (MCL), providing the same kind of big-impact technology in small, portable UAVs that have proven so effective in the hands of private and military operators in Ukraine. 

Pursuing the same kind of objectives as drones used in that conflict, the MoD is looking to put the multiplicity of applications UAVs provide at sensible market prices, using craft that – if damaged or destroyed – are easily replaced. 

ReadBegging to differ with US ban, UK’s MoD buys DJI drones 

The autonomous Skydio X2D drone boasts artificial intelligence (AI) and adaptive 3D Scan capabilities that will allow MoD pilots to effect reconnaissance, security patrols, and incident response missions at day or night. The UAV features 360° obstacle avoidance, six 4K cameras, learning algorithms, and AI enabling them to understand ongoing situations and even prepare for future scenarios.

In addition to being larger in terms of scope than the MoD’s earlier $165,000 purchase of DJI drones, its deal with Skydio is part of a broader modernization and rethink of its military assets.

ReadDrone performance in Ukraine may force military strategy rethink 

The transaction comes under the Future Capabilities Group (FCG) nano UAV initiative. In addition to practical, hands-on deployment of drones by MoD personnel like around-the-corner or over-the-hill intelligence gathering, craft provided will also allow planners to determine concepts and use requirements of future UAVs. 

Those are expected to include enhanced situational awareness and early warning alerts during defensive missions, as well as improved 3D scanning, mapping and surveying capacities.

“Skydio’s drones represent a strategic advantage on the battlefields of today and tomorrow, enabling soldiers to obtain real-time, unprecedented situational awareness,” said company CEO Adam Bry. “We are proud to partner with MCL in providing this capability to the UK armed forces.”

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