90 Miles From Tyranny : Army: Individual Soldiers Will One Day Control Swarms of Robots

Friday, June 29, 2018

Army: Individual Soldiers Will One Day Control Swarms of Robots

Army robotics officials at Fort Benning, Georgia are trying to give individual soldiers the capability to control swarms of air and ground robotic systems for missions that often require large numbers of troops to accomplish.

U.S. ground forces have used small ground robots and unmanned aerial systems for years, but only on a small scale, said Don Sando, director Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate at Benning.

"To really get a large benefit from robotic systems, we have to break the one-soldier, one-robot link, because right now, you generally need one operator for one robotic system and that is effective and interesting, but when I can have dozens of robotic systems controlled by one soldier, now I have a significant advantage," Sando told a group of defense reporters today on a conference call.

A single soldier could conduct reconnaissance over "large areas with fewer soldiers and many dozens of robotic systems," Sando said.

"That starts to matter especially in conditions such as dense urban environment," Sando said. "The problem with urban environments is they consume soldiers ... limited lines of sight, tunnels, buildings -- all the things that just take manpower to overcome and control.

"If we can expand that with robotic systems, both air and ground, then that has significant impact."

The concept could be developed to enhance communications battlefields when networks are hampered by enemy activity as well as natural obstacles.

"If our communications infrastructure is going to be contested, as we know it will, then how can I regenerate quickly and effectively in a given area with robotic systems, both air and ground, to create that network?" Sando said.

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