With decades of interest and research in the intersection of strategic defense methods and robotics, the United States’ early adoption of drone technology ushered a renaissance of disruptive solutions for space, air, sea, and ground defense and surveillance. In fact, Zion Market Research anticipates that the military robotics market will generate nearly $54B by 2027. Major military powers on the international level are investing in robotics for the promise they show in mitigating safety risks while enhancing human capabilities. Here are just some of the breakthroughs this year in defense robotics.
Before deploying overseas, troops today have rigorous experience with autonomous technologies, but instead of wielding the technology, they’re training against it. Marines at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune train with autonomous robotic target systems, programmed to not only move spontaneously but to charge aggressively at the shooter. The human-like behaviors of these systems are not limited to movement, but also communication – these systems can shout in foreign languages.
The common thread connecting innovations in robotics is safety for all concerned. So when the military struggled with testing vehicles to adapt to changing terrains, they turned to automation. However, when considering the obstacles to overcome with fully autonomous vehicles, Bernard Theisen (Engineer, U.S. Army TARDEC) led an initiative to develop autonomous resupply trucks, which are operated via remote controls – finding the balance between minimal risk and human decision making.
Fog of War
Having a sense of clarity and understanding of one’s environment is vital when considering any decision making and subsequent action. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) responded to the need to mitigate the complexity and unpredictability of battlefield conditions with their Squad X program. Focusing on precision engagement, non-kinetic engagement, squad sensing, and squad autonomy, Squad X clears the fog of confusion within a multi-domain environment by optimizing squad maneuverability and enhanced synchronization of execution and navigation on the physical, electromagnetic, and cyber planes.
“By land, sea, and air” is well known, but it is perhaps more relevant now than ever. Boeing’s Wave Glider is an innovative maritime solution for data collection, analysis, and communication. Emphasizing defense, maritime security, and environmental assessments, Wave Glider’s sensors are programmed to monitor and collect data 24/7, powered by wave and solar energy.
Not a Scratch
So far, 2019 seems to be punctuated by initiatives aimed to enhance safety and awareness. Coming out of BAE Systems is a 360 Multifunction Vehicle Protection (MVP) Sensor. Boasting features that improve visibility, situational and environmental awareness, threat detection, and countermeasures – sensors for the MVP are programmed to protect crews and armored vehicles. Detecting threats on the air and ground, HD sensors and extended view cameras operate as the eyes and ears of crews vulnerable to various attacks.
This renaissance in unmanned technologies correlates with the rapid growth in the technology markets. As communication and data solutions grow in their sophistication, technologies like Kinesis emerge. Culminating in the combined experience of the team at Tomahawk Robotics, Kinesis is a disruptive solution for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) missions. Intuition drives the design of its gesture-based control system – mitigating safety risks in unstructured and unsafe environments. Visit tomahawkrobotics.com/products/ to learn more about the innovative solutions for unmanned vehicles.