New Army Robotic Systems Nearly Ready for Prime Time.

Author:Mayfield, Mandy
 
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COLUMBUS, Ga. -- The Army is picking up steam in its pursuit of robotic systems with a slew of platforms coming down the pipeline.

Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, deputy commanding general and head of the futures and concepts center at Army Futures Command--which is spearheading the service's highest priority modernization efforts--recently asked for industry's help developing advanced ground robotics.

There are four capability sets where the Army is in need of assistance: lethality, stand-off, penetration and convergence, Wesley said during a keynote address at the National Defense Industrial Association's Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition in Columbus, Georgia.

Lethality and stand-off capabilities both relate to the problems associated with putting soldiers within range of enemy forces while attempting to maintain control of key terrain, Wesley noted.

"Lethality and stand-off creates a need to close the gap, and that's where robotics would be prevalent," he said. Unmanned systems can give the Army the ability to keep troops out of harm's way, while still maintaining the firepower necessary to hold adversaries at bay, he noted.

Going forward, robots must employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to make decisions faster and more efficiently while on the battlefield, Wesley said.

The Army's pursuit of a new robotic combat vehicle is just one example of the service's efforts to leverage unmanned systems.

Col. Warren Sponsler, deputy director for the next generation combat vehicle's cross-functional team, said the Army was preparing for phase two of its robotic combat vehicle experiments.

The combat capabilities development center's ground vehicle systems center is working with the next-generation combat vehicle cross-functional team to collaborate with industry and build three variants of the robotic combat vehicle.

The Army's next-generation combat vehicle initiative is the service's effort to develop a new set of combat vehicles that will replace the service's current fleet. As part of the Army's plan to modernize the force, the cross-functional team was set up to pursue the technology.

The service is aiming to develop the vehicles in light, medium and heavy variants, Sponsler said.

The RCV-Light will weigh approximately seven tons and include a sensor bundle that will allow the platform to deliver lethal fires, he said.

"The RCV-L will support modular mission payloads and enable commanders to tailor the vehicle's capabilities...

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