News & Press Coverage


Map the Gap - 13th August 2020







Hinckley, 13 August 2020:  Digital Concepts Engineering Ltd (DCE) has won a contract in the UK government’s Defence and Security Accelerator’s (DASA) Map the Gap competition to develop a semi-autonomous reconnaissance and survey system that will help troops safely and stealthily advance into enemy territory over water.


DCE will lead its part of the Map the Gap industry team with a vehicle based on their rugged X series of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which incorporates DCE’s Marionette robotic vehicle architecture, the heart of the Map the Gap solution. Other organisations and technologies supporting DCE’s bid are Jacobs’ 6th Sense data analytics, drones & autonomous routing provided by Frazer-Nash Consultancy and Eijkelkamp Geopoint SoilSolutions’ ground sampling expertise. Map the Gap ground surveys will be carried out using a submersible ROV carrying data sensors, soil sampling tools and sonar equipment, while the surrounding area will be scanned from the air by drone.


The Map the Gap competition was run by DASA on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. The programme covers two phases for the development and demonstration of a number of system demonstrators able to tackle the key issues of gap crossing survey. The total funding for Phase 1 of the Map the Gap programme is approximately £1.2m, with a further £2.5m anticipated for Phase 2 activities.


Robert Hammond-Smith, DASA Delivery Manager for Map the Gap, said:

“Our vision is to ultimately remove personnel from these dangerous tasks with a remote system that allows more crossing locations to be surveyed, increasing the choices available to commanders and giving an opportunity to surprise the enemy.”


Lionel Nierop, DCE’S Business Development and Operations Director, commented:
“We are delighted to have won a contract on DASA’s prestigious and technically demanding Map the Gap competition. DCE’s successful bid with our X-4 ROV and our Marionette universal control system builds on our previous work in defence and nuclear applications.”
“This win demonstrates the opportunities presented by long-term collaboration between a wide range of innovative companies, working alongside the government, and we are looking forward to successfully meeting the Map the Gap challenge together.”

Full details on attached pdf; see also image above, credit: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2018

Coverage of DCE in Global Defence Technology, 12th August 2020

From Army Warfighting Experiments to Map the Gap, Digital Concepts Engineering has become a key player in the unmanned systems space. Harry Lye spoke to the company about its work for the British Armed Forces...

DCE wins Innovate UK funding to develop a robotic hospital bed mover, 24th June 2020

For further details please see this article on

Phase 3 IIND, 28th November 2019

We were delighted to receive the news that Wood PLC are through to Phase 3 of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority/Innovate UK/Sellafield Ltd 'Integrated Innovation in Nuclear Decommissioning competition'.

In Phase 2 we combined our X2 vehicle, Marionette control system and electrical/mechanical engineering expertise to deliver a core component of the system. We've been grateful to the Wood team for all their support and hard work in getting the project this far and we look forward to continuing to work together on this exciting venture.

The full announcement is available here.

DCE to sub-contract on key British Army Autonomy Experiment - 30th September 2019

The UK MOD Defence And Security Accelerator (DASA) has funded six demonstrations of semi-autonomous “wingman” platforms to understand how such platforms can be run and exploited by vehicle and helicopter crews, forming a Man-Unmanned Team (MUM-T).

DCE are delighted to be working with SCISYS to integrate our Marionette Universal Control System and an uprated X2 vehicle in to SCISYS's market leading Generic Vehicle Architecture solution. This will allow control of the vehicle from a single display whilst and will further the understanding of how to minimise the work required by the operator (known as cognitive burden), while maximising the utility of the wingman.

For more information see
Tag der Infanterie, 11th July 2019.

Tag der Infantrie, July 2019

Thanks to Precision Technic Defence for hosting us (via HIPPO Multipower) at Tag der Infantrie in Hammelburg, Germany last week. A great opportunity to demonstrate our Marionette control system flawlessly controlling the HIPPO-X ATSV in challenging weather conditions!



Demonstration to the Secretary of State for Defence, 24th May 2019

DCE spent a very interesting morning on Salisbury Plain with a range of other companies who are working on defence related concepts. We were demonstrating our X2 UGV to Penny Mordaunt, SoS for Defence and spent a useful few minutes discussing with the Minister how the vehicle's Marionette control system can be applied to a range of other armoured platforms including Warrior. Our thanks to the Army for inviting us.


Attendance at the Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference in London, 22nd May 2019

We were pleased to attend the Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference in London where our consortium briefed those attending on Project MEPHITIS, part of the DASA "Don’t Blow It!" Competition.

The MEPHITIS team aims to safely eliminate chemical weapons in challenging environments. For the project a HIPPO Multipower ATSV has been equipped with a manipulator arm and is operated under remote control by DCE's Marionette system. The remote-controlled arm drills into the chemical weapon using Valent Applications Ltd's MIDAS system. The chemical agent is then pumped into a decontamination bag where it is neutralised using FAST-ACT, marketed in the UK and Europe by Specialist Response Solutions Ltd.

The MEPHITIS system can be deployed into the area of operation by helicopter, towed behind another vehicle or drive under its own power for up to 150 km. A single system can neutralise over 48 chemical shells or up to a tonne of chemical agent while minimising the exposure of human operators.

Mephitis.png, 16th December 2018:
Driverless vehicles put to the test on Salisbury Plain, 14th December 2018:
Autonomous Warrior: Meet The Driverless Military Vehicles, 11th December 2018:
Army Warfighting Experiment 2018: Soldiers put driverless vehicles to the test

Shephard Media, 10th December 2018:
British Army demos new Challenger 2 urban operation tank concept

Express, 9th December 2018:
Remote-controlled tanks to wage the wars of the future

Daily Mail, 4 December 2018: 
British Army reveals it's testing mini sniper tanks

Daily Telegraph, 4th December 2018:
Remote-controlled tanks tested on Salisbury plain in biggest ever robot military test

BBC, 4th December 2018:
Are these robots the future of warfare?, 2nd December 2018:
First showing of a remote operated UK Warrior

The Engineer, 20th February 2018:

Wood to lead robotic nuclear decommissioning project, 19th February 2018:
Wood wins government backing to bring space technology to nuclear decommissioning, 19th February 2018:
Wood wins £1.5m funding for robotics research

Energy Voice, 19th February 2018:
Wood nets £1.5m worth of funding for nuclear decommissioning project

Electronic, 25th May 2017:
Do android farmers dream of electric sheep?

Farmers Weekly, 24th February 2016:
Self-driving Ibex robot sprayer helps farmers safely tackle hills

Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 22nd Feb 2016:
Autonomous weed destroying agri-bot to begin trials

The Engineer, 22nd February 2016:
Agricultural robot starts UK trials