Related Video Above: Army to Assess Robot-Combat Tactics
The Army is making a specific effort to build AI into its new generation of Robotic Combat Vehicles to process data, organize incoming sensor information from otherwise disparate pools of information and distribute crucial targeting information across the force in real time.
Army 10-ton Robotic Combat Vehicle
The Army is now moving forward quickly with its 10-ton Robotic Combat Vehicle - Medium, a platform development effort intended to leverage manned-unmanned teaming to reshape modern Combined Arms Maneuver.
AI enabled computer systems can bounce incoming sensor data off of an existing database to draw comparisons, solve problems and analyze a host of variables all in relation to one another for human decision makers to process. Advanced algorithms can sift through limitless volumes of data and find key moments or objects of great combat relevance in milliseconds, easing the cognitive burden and time constraints placed on human decision makers.
“We are looking at using unmanned vehicles to expand the network and expand the line-of-sight so we can push these robots out as far as possible so soldiers do not have to do that,” Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, Director, Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command, told reporters at the 2021 Association of the United States Army Annual Convention.
One correct information is identified through instant, yet rigorous analysis, it needs to be securely transmitted across the force. While much progress continues to be made in the realm of cross-force, cross-domain information sharing, transmitting data across otherwise disconnected areas remains challenging for Army developers.
“I still think one of the greatest challenges we are going to have is the network. We are trying to pass full motion video in real time,” Coffman said.
Coffman further explained that video and data transmission can be challenged by line-of-sight impediments or other obstacles likely to complicate information sharing.
“When you are on the ground and you have robots talking to other robots talking to ground vehicles, you may go behind a hill, behind a rock, in a gully, or go around the corner of a building,” Coffman added.
The Army has identified the growing technological synergy as “Warfighter-Machine interface,” meaning machines can leverage procedural speed to distill, organize, analyze and then transmit crucial data of great significance to human decision makers pressed to make fast decisions under enemy fire.
Many of the Army’s industry partners, such as General Dynamics Land Systems, are building AI and networking technology into their respective robot prototypes. At AUSA 2021, GDLS unveiled its TRX series of robot prototypes, a new 10-ton configurable tracked robotic platform engineered for a range of different hardware configurations and mission sets.
“We took sensor packages and integrated them onto the robot. made it architecturally capable of incorporating a variety of mission packages and data processing capability to allow input from sensors to be redistributed as necessary,” Don Kotchman, Vice President, General Dynamics Land Systems, told The National Interest in an interview.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.