According to ArmyTimes.com, the Army plans within 18 months to field robots that will do some tasks without direct human control, such as finding explosives and transporting equipment.
The robots will turn corners, clear dangerous areas, capture images with a “persistent stare” and beam them back, and follow convoys without being tele-operated as they are now.
A manager in the Army’s robotic systems project office said there is a push toward increased intelligence and autonomy. The intent is to build intelligent behavior and semi-autonomous or automatic controls.
Robots that can clear caves and roads or deal with explosive ordnance will be able to operate alongside infantry units, move their mechanical arms and beam back images from forward locations without needing specific human direction.
These small, semi-autonomous robots also will be able to help to locate targets with sensors that behave independently of human controls.
Also, robotic trucks will be programmed to follow other trucks without needing human drivers, freeing up soldiers to perform other duties such as watching for roadside threats.
They could have these kinds of capabilities within 18 months, such as semi-autonomous route-clearance platforms and robotic leader-follower convoys.
These are at a pretty advanced state of technological readiness and are getting safety certification to ensure they are safe for the war fighters. The systems that the Army produces increase the stand-off distance between the war fighters and harm.
Among the semi-autonomous robots slated for deployment are those that can perform more explosive ordnance disposal missions.
The plans to field these robots are emerging in response to a series of urgent battlefield requests from the Army’s III Corps.
Five operational needs statements from III Corps all ask for “an element of semi-autonomy — persistent stare, route clearance, convoy logistics and concept of a robotic wingman.”