Application of unmanned military systems – experts weigh in

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unmanned military systems

The field of Unmanned Systems is rapidly developing, as part of other burgeoning sectors, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and cyber. In the course of 2013, INSS carried out a study which focused on Unmanned Vehicles. This study is a prelude to formulating a UAS policy Israel should follow – based on a technological projection for the development of military UAVs by 2033.

The INSS study, which is based on a discussion between experts in this field, was carried out in the framework of the INSS program for technology and policy projection, dating back to 2012. This program is designed to execute studies incorporating long-term technological projection and formulating policy. The following summarized the first of these studies, in an effort to serve as a model for subsequent ones.

The following is a digest of the study’s conclusions – the primary insights of the panel of technology experts:1.

1. The current status:

The current level of credibility unmanned ground and sea systems feature is considered quite low, in particular compared with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Unmanned systems suffer from the lack of technical maturity when it comes to certain missions such as detection of explosive charges in open areas or in urban environments. These insights are in line with experts’ assessment, that unmanned systems are currently where household computers used to be in the 1980’s. Furthermore, there is a great potential for a far-reaching improvement within 20 years.

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ADME 2015_ 650 × 902. In the future, we will see a major improvement in the performance of Autonomous systems, along with the level of trust we can have for them.

Unmanned systems are in for a significant improvement in terms of their respective abilities to gather intelligence, carry out reconnaissance missions, monitor sectors and detect targets, distinguish friendly enemy from friendly ones, as well as carry out damage assessment of enemy targets, i.e. infrastructure. These systems will have become simpler to operate. High system autonomy will allow each operator to control a larger number of vehicles at once. Major groupings of systems (or ’swarms’) will be able to operate jointly or in tandem with near-minimal human involvement. Each grouping will feature many and varied systems, whose operators will be capable of relaying relatively simple directions. Thus, effectively, the swarm will organize itself autonomously to carry its orders out in the most suitable way. Respective systems will exhibit high levels of execution and high levels of credibility both singularly and as parts of larger formations. Furthermore, “wild cards” may well be introduced – systems with capabilities we nowadays perceive as fantastic, whose application would be tantamount to a ’game changer’ compared with what we are familiar with today.

The primary consequences of these technology projections are that the bulk of military tactical missions could be planned in advanced and executed autonomously (with no human involvement) within 20 years. Using swarms of autonomous systems will play a growing part of the current face of the battlefield, and will greatly alter the pace of fighting, as well as other element of combat.

Edited by: Yoav Zachs, Liran Antebi