The UK and US are stepping up their efforts to develop autonomous robotic delivery technologies to troops on the frontline.
The countries' armed forces will start testing a mix of unmanned air and ground vehicles from October 2017 that could be used to take equipment over the ‘last mile’ of ground to those at the frontline. This is the hardest and most dangerous aspect of any delivery in hostile environments.
The first test will be based on an autonomous truck convey as part of the US Army Warfighting Assessment trials.
As well as the trials the two nations have called on industry and academia to identify other technologies that could be developed, with the aim of a full set of trials by 2019.
UK defence minister Philip Dunne explained that the collaboration is a key part of the process to ensure that US and UK armed forces are making the most of technology.
“Robotics and autonomous systems offer opportunities to operate in fundamentally different ways. This collaboration on assured resupply will put our nations at the forefront of future developments, allowing us to transform our approach to military logistics,” he said.
US undersecretary of defence Frank Kendall added to this sentiment, saying that there are many benefits to working together on such technology advances.
“Our collaboration will help grow our advantage in autonomous systems and human-machine collaboration, and will help drive interoperability between US and UK systems into the future,” he said.
However, the focus on the military use of such vehicles shows that there is huge potential for the technology in other areas, although the hazards and variables of a warzone could mean that the development of such vehicles lags behind the mainstream.
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