Smart Hitch technology offers efficiency in frontline resupply

Glic Ltd received DASA funding and post-contract support to help develop their autonomous trailer hitch.

  • Glic Ltd has developed an autonomous vehicle-to-trailer connection system which connects and disconnects a trailer to or from a towing vehicle without human intervention.
  • A chance meeting with DASA’s Innovation Partner in Scotland introduced Glic to the possibility of funding to adapt their Smart Hitch technology for military use.
  • Following a successful funding bid, Glic were able to develop their software and test Smart Hitch with the British Army.
  • Further post-contract support from DASA’s Access to Mentoring and Finance (A2MF) Team is preparing Glic for future investment and market readiness.

Introducing Glic Ltd

Glic Ltd is a technology start-up based in rural Aberdeenshire. The company was established to revolutionise the way cars connect to trailers – developing cutting-edge technology which enables seamless connection between trailers and vehicles without human intervention. Glic began working on a civilian auto-hitch system in 2016 and two years later, delivered a fully functioning prototype of the Smart Hitch. The design has been awarded patents in Australia, Germany, the UK and USA.

A chance meeting with DASA’s Innovation Partner in Scotland, Dr Deb Carr, encouraged Glic to consider an alternative use for Smart Hitch. This led to a successful bid into DASA’s Open Call for Innovation in 2019, where Glic was awarded £99,000 to adapt their civilian design for NATO vehicles.

Towed to success

The British Armed Forces are exploring autonomous vehicles as a safer way to deliver supplies to the frontline. Being driverless, these platforms reduce the need for personnel to risk their lives by entering hostile environments; however, there are no current solutions which enable trailers to connect and disconnect from vehicles without human intervention.

After seeing a video of the Smart Hitch in action, the British Army was keen to provide funding to develop the technology for military use and an opportunity at the end of the project to trial Smart Hitch using NATO vehicles.

The trial proved successful, demonstrating that Smart Hitch can autonomously connect and disconnect a trailer from a military Land Rover and safely tow the trailer over both flat and uneven terrain.

Pitch perfect

Following their initial DASA contract, Glic was keen to gain further funding to develop both their civilian and military products. DASA’s Access to Mentoring and Finance (A2MF) team provided post-contract support in the form of business mentoring and an opportunity to pitch to potential investors at DASA’s annual Investor Showcase. Prior to the showcase, Glic received training from business experts which helped them refine their presentation and sales pitch.

DASA’s 2021 Investor Showcase was attended by 17 innovative SMEs who presented their businesses and innovations to an invited audience of investors, ranging from business angels to brokers and venture capitalists.

On his experience of the Investor Showcase, Gary Webster, Glic’s Co-Founder, said:

Meeting investors is very difficult for a small start-up company. DASA’s A2MF service increased our exposure and gave us the confidence and skills to pitch our product.

The road ahead

DASA funding has enabled Glic’s business to expand, adding a full time electronic/software engineer to their headcount. Following the success of their first project, Glic has received further DASA funding to develop Smart Hitch for use on larger vehicles with higher payloads. They have also received support from Scottish Enterprise and are now working with the University of Aberdeen to explore inductive power transfer systems to make Smart Hitch even more versatile and reliable.

Find out more

Read how DASA’s Access to Mentoring and Finance Service can help you build the business behind your innovation.

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