No sharks please, we're British

18 March 2007

The UK Ministry of Defence has published the rules that inventors need to obey if they want to get involved with its own version of the DARPA Grand Challenge. Although the rules were only made public last week at a launch conference for would-be teams, the MoD is sticking to its May 15 deadline for applications and a chance of getting your research paid for.

During his speech, defence minister Lord Drayson was keen to stress that anything goes in this competition, although as a former roboticist, he pointed out that he thinks "robotics has a big part to play in this challenge". However, if someone has come up with some sort of long-distance magic ray that you can point at a town to work out if there are roadside bombs or snipers hanging about, the MoD will not turn them away. The ministry is keen to stress that there are no restrictions on what the winning approach can use.

Well almost. There will be no sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. Or, as Dr Paul Hollinshead, director of science and technology policy at the MoD, put it: "No animals. No dogs with cameras on their heads or cats with grenades strapped to their backs, that sort of thing."

Just in case you were wondering.