Autonomous systems

Autonomous systems

The prolonged expansion of the autonomous systems sector is already beginning to revolutionise industry and will continue to do so over the coming decade. At the same time, uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) still are in regulatory limbo despite having advanced rapidly in technical maturity.

As a world-leading systems integrator and CAA-authorised flight operator with decades of certification planning and quality approvals experience, Marshall is uniquely positioned to develop credible and highly practical UAS systems that are optimised around specific use cases.

Our well-established pedigree in uncrewed vehicles runs all the way back to our advanced composites team’s work with BAE Systems on production of CORAX, RAVEN and MANTIS, followed by co-development of the multi-purpose HERTI platform.

Leveraging the reputation, resources and extensive aerospace expertise of the broader Marshall group, Futureworx, our in-house accelerator, is spearheading the development and launch of a range of UAS products that will gradually push new boundaries in autonomous systems.

Rather than attempting to force a complete step-change in the status quo, Futureworx seeks to evolve the familiar through a series of well-informed technological and regulatory advancements, developing products that will be operational within a matter of months rather than decades.

Following an exploratory process of considering a range of specific use cases, Futureworx launched Lilypad, a UAS ecosystem providing dynamic and on-demand inspection services for offshore wind farms, with potential for expansion to adjacent applications and domains in the future.

Lilypad will be followed by a VTOL Heavy Lift Unmanned Aircraft System (HLUAS), which will be capable of carrying substantial payloads over great distances thanks to its innovative hybrid-electric gas turbine powerplant.

We are now bringing the very latest modelling design and model based system engineering (MBSE) techniques to the next generation of design for complex UAS solutions. The application of digital capabilities allows rapid design iterations that embed key characteristics such as low observability, thermal management, low cost manufacture and modularisation with reduced maintenance needs.

We are proud to have developed our range of autonomous systems alongside several industry-leading UAS and aerial intelligence experts including ISS Aerospace and


Lilypad is a ground-breaking ecosystem of multiple resident autonomous uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) with remote piloting to provide safe, efficient and scalable inspection services.

Lilypad offers cost-efficient operations, with a service offering that assumes all responsibility for optimal asset coverage, installation and commissioning.

With dynamic and on demand scheduling capability, the inspection UAV receives its mission task from the ground control station, enabling rapid response to O&M demand and more frequent inspection availability. The UAV, with a range of approximately 15km, is launched and flown by the remote pilot to the required destination to complete an automated inspection task before returning to an enclosure to upload inspection data and swap the battery for rapid recharging.

A permanently deployed highly automated system with minimal maintenance requirements, Lilypad uses UAV-mounted high-resolution payloads including inspection cameras and LiDAR to reliably provide consistent and informative data collection and analytics.

Fully certified by the UK CAA and delivered through a partnership between Marshall Futureworx, ISS Aerospace and, Lilypad’s world-leading integrated capability is poised to revolutionise how assets and infrastructure are monitored, maintained and optimised.

The Lilypad ecosystem is based on versatile modular technology that can be readily upgraded to support future innovations whilst offering a host of operational, economic and environmental benefits. Once proven, the Lilypad system could expand into wider applications such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and perimeter/border inspections within the defence and security markets.

Lilypad Offshore

Heavy lift UAS

Marshall Futureworx and ISS Aerospace have been awarded a £500,000 grant by the UK’s Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) to develop a VTOL Heavy Lift Unmanned Aircraft System (HLUAS).

The project, delivered through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and InnovateUK, is sponsored by the Ministry of Defence’s Directorate of Industrial Strategy and Exports (DISE).

HLUAS will be powered by an innovative hybrid-electric gas turbine powerplant providing extended range, improved endurance and a payload significantly greater than currently allowed by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries, without the need for complex electrical infrastructure for recharging batteries in the field or at sea.

The aircraft will meet the demanding requirements of military, commercial and off-shore support operators by transporting large payloads to and from small naval platforms and ground pads without the need for a runway.

HLUAS will be certified to both civil and military aviation airworthiness requirements using Marshall’s UK CAA and MAA Design, Manufacturing and Flight Test Organisation approvals.

Battlespace deployable UAS

BDAUS is a turnkey solution that packs multiple capabilities in only one 20ft expandable shelter, including rotary uncrewed aircraft transport and storage, a heavy duty maintenance and repair workshop, and a remote piloting station for two operators.

The multi-purpose container provides a large, versatile and environmentally controlled workspace for users, while also supporting rapid deployment and transport via road, sea, rail and air.

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