The British Army is poised to commence its largest test of robots during simulated battles in the upcoming exercise on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire – a project known as ‘Autonomous Warrior’. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson stated that the exercise is set to last four weeks and will involve enhanced surveillance drones and unmanned vehicles.
With the goal of testing methods to reduce the danger to troops, this exercise will also test technologies for long-range and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the autonomous last mile resupply. The drill will conclude with a battle group experiment, where the best ideas and products will be tested in the toughest of simulated war and disaster environments.
Taking responsibility of command and control for this exercise, the Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group from 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade is providing the bulk of exercising troops. The exercise will involve more than 200 multi-national, cross-service personnel overall. The ‘Autonomous Warrior’ will witness the jointmanship of the US Army, Royal Marines, RAF and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) working alongside industry partners and academia and experimenting with over 70 products and systems.
One of the key areas it is set to test is the autonomous last mile resupply. This critical ‘last mile’ represents the extremely dangerous final approach to the combat zone which is crucial to ensuring soldiers have the food, fuel and ammunition to keep them alive.
— British Army (@BritishArmy) November 12, 2018
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “Our troops now have the chance to test out a huge range of robotic kit in what will be the biggest exercise of its kind in our history. We’re always working with the brightest minds in Britain and across the world to see how they can support our military of the future, but now the frontrunners have the chance to prove what they can really do on a battlefield. This equipment could revolutionise our Armed Forces, keeping them safe and giving them the edge in an increasingly unstable world.”
The exercise aims to test technologies keeping in mind the requirement for enhanced situational awareness given the challenges that arise with urban warfare.
The Royal Navy recently demonstrated autonomous systems diving, swimming and flying together to engage in surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mine countermeasures during the hugely successful ‘Unmanned Warrior’. The land-based exercise is a follow on of this naval exercise.
Autonomous Warrior will be involved in the execution of an integral role it is slated for within the £800 million Defence Innovation Fund which supports ground-breaking ideas aimed at transforming both defense and British industry.