US Army Plans to Demonstrate Robotic Wingman Vehicles in 2017

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The US Army is going to demonstrate a number of various robots and drones, which will take part in the Fort Benning military exercises along with US servicemen, in 2017.

US Army Plans to Demonstrate Robotic Wingman Vehicles in 2017

Photo: US Army 55th Combat Camera / Sgt. Steven Hitchcock

In 2017, the US Army plans to show off a number of robots and drones, which will take part in the Fort Benning military exercises along with US servicemen, the DefenseNews news portal reported. It is assumed that all the demonstrated robots will be put into service in the army by 2023.

One of the main tasks will be to attempt to test interaction between robotic systems and manned military hardware in various military branches in the field. For example, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) Shadow and Gray Eagle are going to be used along with the AH-64 Apache helicopters. It is expected that they will play the role of a reconnaissance and attack helicopter, which was previously performed by the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter, before it was decommissioned from the ranks of the armed forces.

Another innovation, which will be tested at Fort Benning, is the M1A2 Abrams tank with an automatic weapons loader, mounted on it. At present, most American tanks are reloaded manually, while the loading operation is automated in most other modern tanks. Until this problem is solved, development of autonomous US robotic-tanks remains impossible.

A joint capability technology demonstration of the robotic wingman concept using Humvees will also be conducted by the US Army at Fort Benning this summer. According to a set of slides, used during a presentation at a capabilities information exchange between industry and Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia, this month, the second phase, which will be conducted later at an unspecified time, will demonstrate the same capability using M113s.

As the slides noted, the demonstrations will feed into the development of the Army’s planned programs of record for both a semiautonomous robotic wingman starting in 2023 and an autonomous version that would come online in 2035.

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  • Pave Way IV

    Robotic wingman? Oh, Jesus… I’m sure every soldier and marine wants a damn unmanned Humvee and especially an unmanned M113 rolling along next to him. Those things are dangerous enough as it is with human drivers. I could see sending one out to retrieve a few guys in certain situations. That would actually be pretty useful. But rolling alongside potential meat speed bumps? No thanks. I would keep trying to run away from it and the damn thing would probably follow me.