As one of the leading military forces in the world, the United States Army and Marines are developing the next generation warfare that is automated to maximize combat and reconnaissance operations on the field. This robotic equipment will lessen the risk of human losses in the battlefield.
Live exercises were underway at Fort Carson, Colo, where the 4th Squadron of the 10th Cavalry Regiment has tested the unmanned Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M113 armored personnel carriers for platoon training in related military exercises.
According to army sources, the unmanned combat vehicles (UCV) just need the soldiers on point to operate the robotic units a distance away. The exact distance is 1,500 to 2000 meters, depending on the kind of terrain where the units are dispatched. The Bradley IFVs will be sent forward of the cavalry unit, to attack or recon without endangering the operators, according to Stripes.
Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman mentioned that everything is not about the technology or the robots in the field. The objective is to lessen the risk to the soldiers, with robots as tools to help in that way. Robotic technology is just at its infancy and there will be improvements in the future.
Integrating the technology with combat will be a worthy add-on to the battlefield. Coffman foresees that the U.S. will have these machines assisting their human counterparts in major operations that increase combat efficacy, according to One Alpha.
Last Thursday, Sergeant Major Michael Grinston regarded the utilization of mechanized warfare as the next phase of armed combat. Despite its potential, the robotics field is just starting and not yet sophisticated.
One of the challenges is how to seamlessly incept these warfighting machines, with their manned mechanized infantry and cavalry units, and how to best deploy them effectively.
For example, the Bradly infantry fighting vehicle will need three men to run it, which includes the commander, driver, and gunner. Most armored vehicles need a complement of three, with no exceptions.
Army heads informed that the upcoming vehicles are ground recon drones that will go into the forward area and attack or recon any hostilities in the area. This will result in fewer operators and ground troops which are needed to recon areas with fewer casualties.
In the meantime, robot vehicles are still in need of two human operators, one driver, and the weapons operator. But there might be changes with no set operation protocol yet. Some studies are done by the military to assess the cognitive aspect that affects the remote operator.
Improvement of autonomous technology will lessen the need for operators, and one human controller may control one or a cluster of units. The military believes that IFV and the armored unit still need human input.
Coffman added that only partial autonomy is the goal, and not a full robotic one. Machines making all the decisions is not ideal. Technology is just a glorified sophisticated autopilot, so it can take some of the operating burdens from human operators.
His goal is to develop modern semi-autonomous drones that will be the cutting edge. Army and Marine corps are working together to develop this technology for both service branches. In operation, these unmanned combat vehicles need the operators to have a line of sight control. This represents the next generation of warfare for the U.S. Military.