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UK defence firm Babcock announced on 7 December 2023 that it has developed a technology with the capability of securely controlling single or entire fleets of vehicles in a defence environment.

“We demonstrated our SwarmCore technology, an advanced software system made up of multiple networks, at the UK Ministry of Defence’s BattleLab site last week in Dorset,” the company stated in a press release. “The project was created in collaboration with Arqit: a leader in quantum-safe encryption and supported by the UK’s national innovation agency, Innovate UK.”

Fundamentally, SwarmCore, which is ready to be tested in the military environment, can be used to control single or entire fleets of uncrewed assets, such as uncrewed aerial vehicle swarms and teams of uncrewed ground vehicles, in a decentralised fashion to prosecute a certain activity. It can be operated either fully autonomously or by remote human control at a safe distance from the battlefield.

A key technology that makes Swarmcore work is its use of the very latest advanced computer vision algorithms. It also uses game engines to enhance the situational awareness of the swarm, so that it understands what is happening in the environment.

One of the major benefits of SwarmCore and its integration with Arqit’s Symmetric Key Agreement Platform is its ability to receive and transmit data in a safe and secure way in a decentralised manner. In a defence environment, this would mean that if a single vehicle as part of a fleet was either hacked or attacked, the rest of the fleet could continue its mission instructions with no single asset ever being a point of failure.

With the integration of Arqit’s encryption technology, information carried on encrypted keys to and from assets will benefit from robust protection against cyber-attacks.

SwarmCore allows multiple uncrewed assets to work together to achieve a mission in such a way that they are survivable, with the loss of a single platform never becoming a point of failure for the mission. (Photo: Babcock)

Brad Yelland, Babcock’s chief engineering and technology officer, was quoted by the company as saying, “Combining both autonomous systems with advanced software that can deal with potential cyber threats could be a game-changer in the modern defence landscape.

“Disruptive technologies such as AI [artificial intelligence], machine learning and quantum are playing an increasingly important role in the changing digital defence landscape and the rise in cyber threats.

“For our defence customers, developing technologies like this gives them more control in today’s complex defence environment, increased performance and security along with the ability for their teams to perform tasks remotely with solutions that are quicker and more cost effective to implement.”

David Williams, Arqit’s founder, chairman and CEO, added, “This collaboration with Babcock has allowed us to deliver a ground-breaking technology that not only enhances security but can also boost operational agility, both in the present and in the foreseeable future.”