Run-in of new technology in the US Army (Most Advanced Robots). Rare Video: Run-in of new technology in the US Army (Most Advanced Robots)
Over the next few years, the Pentagon is poised to spend almost $1 billion for a range of robots designed to complement combat troops. Beyond scouting and explosives disposal, these new machines will sniff out hazardous chemicals or other agents, perform complex reconnaissance and even carry a soldier’s gear.
“Within five years, I have no doubt there will be robots in every Army formation,” said Bryan McVeigh, the Army’s project manager for force protection. He touted a record 800 robots fielded over the past 18 months. “We’re going from talking about robots to actually building and fielding programs,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be working on robots with the Army.”
Must Watch Video: What Will the Sixth-Generation Jet Fighter Look Like?
But that’s just the beginning.
The Pentagon has split its robot platforms into the light, medium and heavy categories. In April, the Army awarded a $429.1 million contract to two Massachusetts companies, Endeavor Robotics of Chelmsford and Waltham-based QinetiQ North America, for small bots weighing fewer than 25 pounds. This spring, Endeavor also landed two contracts worth $34 million from the Marine Corps for small and midsized robots.
During combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department amassed an inventory of more than 7,000 robots, with much of the hardware designed to neutralize improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Military brass was trying to quickly solve a vexing problem that was killing troops, but the acquisition strategy led to a motley assortment of devices that trade journal Defense News last year called “a petting zoo of various ground robots.”
While proponents may argue that autonomous robot soldiers will shield soldiers from harm, they will also remove the bloody consequences of armed conflict, a knowledge that “puts a valuable brake on the horrors of war,” said Scharre, a former Army Ranger.