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Autonomous “Wingman” Vehicles

  • Magazine Article
  • 19AERP05_01
Published 2019-05-01by SAE International in United States
Language:
  • English

The Future of Military Unmanned Vehicle Technology

The US Army's Futures Command is the most important administrative reorganization of the modern Army. Responding to the world's changing priorities-especially the “near peer” threat of ascendant Russia and China-the Army is no longer modernizing, but re-inventing its ground vehicle fleet against new realities. Just like the U.S. Air Force stopped inventing better jets and pilot aids and moved to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for “dull, dirty and dangerous” missions, the Army envisions multiple autonomous vehicle concepts. Instead of a heavier Abrams main battle tank, or a replacement to the aging M113 APC, autonomous “wingman” vehicles may replace some of the human-heavy tasks on the future battlefield.

The questions are many: What is to be the deployment doctrine and the sensors capabilities? Are these new vehicles armed or merely for C4ISR? And indeed, are they actually “autonomous” or controlled, like USAF UAVs, by remote operators from mobile ground stations? The good news is, regardless of how the doctrine or vehicle takes shape, the Army's own MVD (Multi-function Video Display) system can be “appliqued” from the Type II MRAP Mine Clearing Vehicle and used to remotely control all aspects of tomorrow's “wingman” autonomous vehicles.