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The wars of the future are already here.The Army has recently revealed a technology that can be used to wage war in the future: remote-controlled armoured vehicles that are completely unmanned.
The vehicles could save lives on the frontline.The Army insists that soldiers will not be replaced but there are a number of scenarios where sending in “robots first” could make a huge difference.
For the past month, the Army has been working with industry experts as part of Exercise Autonomous Warrior.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has described it as the biggest military robot exercise in British history.
Autonomous Warrior opened its doors to a range of companies who competed to have their products tested by troops.
Two hundred cross-service personnel have been experimenting with and testing out the technology and equipment offered by the companies who were selected.
One of the systems to be used enabled remote-control technology to be installed to an Army Warrior vehicle.
The idea is that the vehicle could enter hostile environments completely unmanned, drawing out enemy fire and exposing their positions.
The Army has worked with a range of companies who could be chosen to eventually bring the technology to the frontline, but the timescale on what might be chosen and when is unclear.
Lionel Nierop, from Digital Concepts Engineering, fitted their Marionette remote control system to the Warrior armoured vehicle. He told forces.net:
“It’s a toolkit. The driver can see what the cameras are seeing”.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Serle, Exercise Director of Autonomous Warrior, says that robots have been used by the Army for many years, but “not on this scale for infantry tactics”:
“We can reduce risk to our soldiers consistently on a battlefield in a warfighting operation and also a counter-insurgency operation.”
He also detailed the potentially life-saving benefits of new technology in rescue scenarios: “Robot First would avoid us putting soldiers forward when we don’t need to.
“We could have trackers on an individual that measures their heart-rate, if they have stopped breathing or are under high-duress then we can send a platform forward in order to rescue them. If they can crawl on to it, we can get them back.”
The designs on show have all been tested for use in surveillance, targeting, re-supply and situational awareness and engagement.
Lieutenant Colonel Serle said that this experiment is not the beginning of the end for human soldiers on the frontline:
“Soldiers will always be used on the frontline because it’s our interaction with human beings that is part of warfare and conflict resolution. It’s a case of putting humans into the environment when it’s safe to do so”.