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A new European collaboration is expected in the field of unmanned land vehicles. Under the leadership of Estonia, a European leader in robotic autonomy, Finland and Latvia will join a project for the development of unmanned land systems within the framework of the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation.

The future system will be a reliable companion for a soldier on the battlefield, one that would increase his decision making speed, reduce the load he is carrying and increase his endurance and defense.

“The same considerable growth that we saw with unmanned aerial vehicles 10-15 years ago can be expected in the near future for unmanned land platforms,” Kusti Salm, the director of the defense investments department at the Estonian ministry of defense, said in a statement. “The project’s ambition is, in cooperation with partners, to develop a solution for unmanned land systems, which would become the European standard.”

An unmanned land vehicle, along with an autonomous control system, cyber defense solution and integrated network of sensors, will be developed within the framework of the project. The system’s initial functions are associated with improving situational awareness on the battlefield and raising the level of efficiency of the maneuvering and transportation capabilities of troops, the Estonian ministry of defense said, according to estonianworld.com.

A total of €30-40 million has been earmarked for use from the European Defense Fund, with participating countries also set to make a contribution.

The project will be launched in the first half of 2019.

Germany, France, and Belgium have also expressed interest in joining the project. In preparation, Estonia has started, under the leadership of the Estonian National Defense College, a research and development project for raising the tactical level of unit combat capabilities for unmanned systems. This is being implemented in cooperation with the nine members of the Estonian defense industry consortium, the ministry of defense added.