Photo courtesy of army.com
U.S. and U.K. troops operate unmanned armored vehicle during joint training exercise.
Since the beginning of mankind, humans have been fighting with one another for reasons including; religious, political, even territorial and the strongest have always survived.
Although being physically strong is one important aspect of war, so is being technologically skilled. Since the introduction of what is now considered common-place or even outdated technology, such as the machine-gun, tank and gas grenade in World War I, there has been a plethora of advancements made in the military.
In today’s world, it is no secret that having advanced technology is the key to success and survival. For example, in 1994, the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone was introduced; a remote controlled, unmanned aircraft capable of firing explosive projectiles at targets with precision and accuracy. The MQ-1 is capable of a top speed of 135 mph and has a targeting range of 770 miles.
This year, the MQ-1 will be phased out, and the newest will be introduced; the MQ-9, also known as The Reaper. The Reaper is comparably faster and far more deadly. It’s capable of targeting at a range of 1150 miles while traveling at a top speed of 235 mph.
Both the MQ-1 and MQ-9 are designed with a few ideas in mind, one being the reduction of the number of friendly casualties on the battlefield. However, these are not the only examples of robot variations limiting friendly casualties.
As of this year, U.S. and U.K. troops have completed an unprecedented robot-led breaching exercise that could potentially save lives on the battlefield.
“The Robotic Complex Breach Concept,” a training event, was held at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in southern Germany. Human troops were able to observe a series of unmanned, remote-controlled ground vehicles during this exercise. These robots cleared obstacles on a simulated battlefront, allowing U.S. manned tanks and fighting vehicles to advance.
British Warrant Officer, Robert Kemp, said that breaching enemy obstacles was one of the most dangerous operations in the battle zone. These robots are expected to substantially reduce those dangers.
“Roboticizing breach operations takes away the risk of life and makes clearing enemy obstacles much safer,” said Officer Kemp.
In particular, the new developments come as great news for engineers who are usually on the front lines.
“The casualty rate for a breach is expected to be 50 percent. Being able to take our guys away from that, and have some robots go in there, is a very positive thing for us. In the future, this can save engineers’ lives,” said 1st Lt. Felix Derosin, a platoon leader with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
Some of the machinery utilized in the simulation are the Automated Direct and Indirect Mortar firing system, the M58 Wolf Smoke Generator and U.K. Terrier engineering vehicles.
Other robots used during the demonstration included the RQ-20 Puma, an unmanned aerial system used for survey of surrounding areas and opposing forces, and the Instant Eye mini-drone, a device used to detect chemical weapons.
The U.S. military is looking forward to advancing systems in which artificial intelligence will serve to protect troops and, in cases as such, replace soldiers on the battlefield.