BMT Redefines Autonomous Payload Delivery

British Army’s Futures Directorate has provided funding to build, supply and demonstrate the latest BMT SPARO® prototype for UK medics who took part in Project CONVERGENCE.

22 April 2024

BMT SPARO® is a small, suspended air-ground payload transfer device demonstrating a globally novel approach set to transform precision deliveries from drones. By allowing the aircraft to remain hundreds of feet above a destination throughout delivery, BMT SPARO® elegantly avoids fundamental problems associated with operating large, noisy, hazardous drones close to people and infrastructure on the ground, especially in challenging environments.

Key Highlights:

Pivotal contract secured

This month BMT proudly announce the project’s first funding from the British Army, marking a pivotal step in the progression of BMT SPARO® technology. This contract award highlights the growing importance of autonomous logistics within Defence and BMT SPARO®'s unique role in making ‘drone delivery’ feasible in the most challenging and hostile environments. The contract is aligned with the Army’s strategic vision for modernisation and utilising advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems.

Commercialisation of Innovation

The funding underlines the Army’s willingness to fund innovation and to investigate the potential benefits BMT SPARO® offers Defence. It also allows BMT to accelerate the commercialisation of the technology into broader applications and markets in collaboration with established partners.

Demonstration at US Army’s Project CONVERGENCE 2024

Specifically, the contract was to build, demonstrate and supply the latest BMT SPARO® prototype for Military Capability Plans - CSS part of the Army's Futures Directorate. The prototype was used for extensive experimentation with end users at Project CONVERGENCE, the premier US Army experimentation exercise. The objective was to understand how the robust device can augment drones to supply urgent medical equipment to medical personnel in the most demanding, hostile environments while simultaneously being precise, safe and survivable.

James Campbell, BMT SPARO® and Emerging Products Manager at BMT, commented:

“BMT SPARO®'s progression since 2019, and its initial acceptance from a government-customer, signals the dawn of a new type of robot: a small, safe, and quiet device suspended under a logistics aircraft that takes over responsibility for payload delivery, better suited to challenging and sensitive environments. This small, highly ruggedised robotic device could even autonomously collect packages as well as deliver them without the need for infrastructure on the ground."
Phil Metcalfe, Regional Business Director for UK and Europe at BMT, said,

“As drone technology and its use in challenging situations accelerates, BMT’s SPARO® autonomous delivery device is a safe, simple and cost-effective solution to the problem of using drones to deliver payloads in difficult environments. This is a great example of what BMT prides itself on – ‘Innovating to provide engineering solutions to today’s pressing challenges’.”
BMT’s development partner, Dr. Steve Wright from Wright Airborne Computing, remarked:

“During 30 years of working in aerospace, I have not seen anything like the surge in new aircraft, systems, and applications that has happened in the last five years. BMT SPARO® is a perfect example of this revolution, fuelled by a happy convergence of 21st-century technologies harnessed together by computers and software that engineers like me could only dream about 30 years ago.”


BMT SPARO® redefines drone deliveries by safely transferring payloads between an aircraft in flight and precise locations on the ground while being suspended on a weight-bearing line. It achieves this through onboard power, sensors, and processing, with a compact internal winch to control height, and small side-facing fans to control lateral position and yaw. The developments occurring last year started with a demonstration of its capabilities for the UK ‘Army Warfighting Experiment’, followed by the granting of a UK Patent (pending in the USA) and, most recently this year, development funding for a new prototype from the British Army.

Future Prospects:

Beyond military applications, BMT SPARO® holds wider potential across sectors like manned helicopter operations, maritime deliveries, maintenance support, emergency services, and e-commerce. Ongoing discussions with established suppliers and ongoing research and development underscore BMT's commitment to advancing this technology that’s set to be critical to the success of autonomous logistics.

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