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The US Army has finalized and released a report on robotics and their applicability. The report, released by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command recently, details the Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy (RAS), how the Army will incorporate emerging technologies into its force structure and the benefits these advancements provide.
The strategy outlines a few crucial goals: Firstly, a framework necessary to unify various RAS efforts and initiatives taking place within the Army. Once all efforts are working in co-operation, give direction for future allocation of resources and then Identifying near-mature technologies that can benefit the Army.
The document states five capability objectives to guide technology development:
- Increase situational awareness
- Lighten the war fighters’ physical and cognitive workloads
- Sustain the force with improved distribution, throughput and efficiency
- Facilitate movement and maneuver
- Protect the force
“Effective integration of RAS improves U.S. forces’ ability to maintain overmatch and renders an enemy unable to respond effectively,” the strategy asserts. “The Army must pursue RAS capabilities with urgency because adversaries are developing and employing a broad range of advanced RAS technologies as well as employing new tactics to disrupt U.S. military strengths and exploit perceived weaknesses. RAS are increasingly important to ensuring freedom of maneuver and mission accomplishment with the least possible risk to soldiers.”
According to c4isrnet.com, the strategy identifies three technology advancements that over the next 25 years will be essential to allow the “fastest, and cost-effective achievement of the RAS capability objectives”: autonomy, artificial intelligence and common control, described as the ability for one common software package to control a multitude of ground and air systems.
Gen. Daniel Allyn, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, wrote in the forward of the strategy: “Consistent with the 2015 National Military Strategy, the RAS Strategy describes how the Army will use human-machine collaboration to meet the Joint Chief of Staff’s goal of increasing operational options for Joint Force commanders. The integration of RAS will help future Army forces, operating as part of Joint teams, to defeat enemy organizations, control terrain, secure populations, and consolidate gains”.
The RAS provides metrics measured in near-term (2017-2020), mid-term (2021-2030) and far-term (2031-2040) for achieving the objectives it sets out detailing short operational vignettes for how they’ll be employed.
The Army hopes to get at far-term priorities 20 years in the future. Those will include increased situational awareness with persistent reconnaissance from swarming systems, improving sustainment with autonomous aerial cargo delivery and facilitating maneuver with advancements to unmanned combat vehicles.
“Over the last few years, commercial and military research efforts have made great advances in air and ground autonomous technology,” said Maj. Gen. Robert “Bo” Dyess, acting director, of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, which spearheaded the development of the strategy. “We must invest to take advantage of these developments to benefit the future force”.