Robots to join Marines in 2020?

National Defense Magazine:
Within five years, Marines could head into battle alongside autonomous robotic trucks carrying water, ammunition and other gear. By the end of the decade, troops could be fighting with unmanned ground systems that communicate, duck and fight like humans, according to scientists working with the military.

With fiscal upheaval in the Pentagon, it is uncertain how much funding will be available to purchase robotic systems, but industry and military laboratories are working on the Marine Corps’ behalf to develop technologies and drive costs down, said Roy Byrd, director of government relations and Marine Corps programs at ITT Exelis. Because of the budget crunch, labs like the Office of Naval Research are focused on retrofitting existing vehicles and systems with autonomy kits that will allow them to operate without a human in the driver seat.

“The science and technology focus is developing autonomy enablers, not platforms,” Byrd said. “The [science and technology] challenge, like for everyone else, is affordability. The service cannot afford, nor is it reasonable, to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more on sensors.”

Byrd spoke on behalf of ONR at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference in Portsmouth, Va. Robots will be able to work and fight alongside Marines within 10 years, he said. Autonomous systems will first be developed to act as force multipliers by carrying supplies, evacuating casualties and eventually will create new concepts of operations for ground troops, he added. But their widespread introduction is heavily dependent on affordability, given constrained Marine Corps spending.
There is more.

I think it is an interesting concept and it will eventually happen when the cost come down and commanders realize they could be more cost effect than the troops handling those functions.


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