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Jack Richardson

Jacobs is part of the team selected by the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence to devise a new system to help the British Army cross water in hostile territory. The ‘Map the Gap’ competition asked the private sector how crossings could be scouted and planned without the need for dangerous reconnaissance missions. A key part of the solution is Jacobs’ 6th Sense data analytics system, which was developed to create high-fidelity 3D maps of legacy radioactive facilities before they are decommissioned.

The concept envisages a semi-autonomous remote system that can collect the required measurements without the need to deploy personnel to the potential crossing location. Ground surveys will be carried out using a submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) carrying data sensors, soil sampling tools and sonar equipment. Our 6th Sense system processes data in real time, helping military engineers to understand how the riverbed, mudflats and banks will take the weight of a temporary bridge and armored vehicles.

The MOD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), which ran the competition on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, will now fund further research and development of the semi-autonomous reconnaissance and survey system. The winning competition entry was led by Digital Concepts Engineering, which developed the rugged X2 ROV; drone providers Frazer-Nash Consultancy; and Eijkelkamp Geopoint SoilSolutions, specialists in ground sampling technology.

Jacobs and Digital Concepts Engineering first paired the 6th Sense data analytics system with an X2 ROV last year when they won a competition, funded by Innovate U.K. and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, to find new ways to decommission highly radioactive former reprocessing facilities at the Sellafield nuclear site.