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Modern military engagements increasingly take place in complex and uncertain battlefield conditions where attacks can come from multiple directions at once, and in the electromagnetic spectrum and cyber domains, as well. U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps dismounted infantry squads have been unable to take full advantage of some highly effective multi-domain defensive and offensive capabilities that vehicle-assigned forces currently enjoy.
DARPA has been advancing Squad X program, that seeks to help overcome these challenges and help ensure US small unit dominance over adversaries.
The program’s goal is to design, develop, and validate autonomous system prototypes and equip them with novel sensing tools and off-the-shelf technologies. The technologies aim to increase squads’ situational awareness, while the autonomous systems allow squads to increase their battlespace and area of influence.
Squad X prime contractor Lockheed Martin has recently awarded BAE Systems a contract to provide key autonomy and artificial intelligence capabilities that aim to advance the effectiveness of tactical robotic air and ground vehicles and create true partnerships between ground warfighters – Soldiers and Marines – and machines at the small-unit level.
BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development organization will provide Mission Intelligence for Tactical Systems (MITS) advanced sensor fusion, artificial intelligence, and autonomy.
MITS is highly automated and directs mobile robots and their sensor payloads while reducing the cognitive load on its partner warfighters. MITS fuses sensor data, constructs and shares battlefield awareness with its human squadmates, and provides tactical electronic and kinetic support to the squad as it maneuvers and engages enemy positions, according to the announcement on businesswire.com. MITS-synthesized awareness informs human decision making in complex, time-critical combat situations, and directs continuous autonomous robotic tasking.
“Autonomy technology – be it in the air, space, sea, or ground domain – is all about making better decisions faster to allow our warfighters to more effectively execute their missions as safely as possible,” said Chris Eisenbies, product line director of the Autonomy, Controls, and Estimation group at BAE Systems. “We look forward to the prospects of providing this advantage to those in the field.”
The $3.5 million Squad X award builds on BAE Systems’ autonomy portfolio and 20-year experience in autonomy technology.