The British Army have just finished the biggest military robot exercise in British history, exercise Autonomous Warrior.
Pictured above is the QinetiQ Titan Strike, a large tracked UGV with a laser rangefinder system. It is fitted with a machine gun but the weapon is under 100% human control and remotely operated.
Over 50 robotic, autonomous and supporting systems have made it through the selection process to be exercised on Autonomous Warrior. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Ground Vehicles will be trialled to measure how they can support surveillance, resupply, command and mobility
British troops were testing out over 70 examples of futuristic technology including enhanced surveillance drones and unmanned vehicles on the fields of Salisbury Plain.
The Ministry of Defence say that the experiment lasted four weeks and tested a range of prototype unmanned aerial and autonomous ground vehicles which aim to reduce the danger to troops during combat. The exercise finished with a battlegroup experiment, where the best ideas and products were tested in the toughest of simulated operational environments.
One of the key areas testes is the autonomous last mile resupply. The ‘last mile’, which represents the extremely dangerous final approach to the combat zone, is crucial to ensuring soldiers have the food, fuel and ammunition to keep them alive.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“Our troops now have the chance to test out a huge range of robotic kit in what will be the biggest exercise of its kind in our history. We’re always working with the brightest minds in Britain and across the world to see how they can support our military of the future, but now the frontrunners have the chance to prove what they can really do on a battlefield. This equipment could revolutionise our Armed Forces, keeping them safe and giving them the edge in an increasingly unstable world.”
The exercise aimed to test technologies in surveillance, long-range and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness. The Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group from 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade provided the bulk of exercising troops and took responsibility of command and control.
According to a news release:
“Overall there were over 200 multi-national, cross-service personnel. The US Army, Royal Marines, RAF and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) joined industry partners and academia in working alongside them, experimenting with over 70 products and systems.
Autonomous Warrior will play an integral role within the £800 million Defence Innovation Fund which supports ground-breaking ideas aimed at transforming both defence and British industry.”
The land-based exercise follows on from the ‘Unmanned Warrior’ which the Royal Navy demonstrated autonomous systems diving, swimming and flying together to engage in surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mine countermeasures.