Autonomous troop carriers undergo trials

BAE Systems Australia has tested two new autonomous armoured troop carriers for the Australian Army.

Developed by BAE Systems in collaboration with the Australian government, two autonomous M113 vehicles were trialled in a “battlefield simulation” at Majura Training Site, on the outskirts of Canberra.

Both hardware and software was installed in the vehicle to enable them to operate autonomously, and expected applications include troop movement as well as intelligence gathering and logistics support. To comply with rules of engagement, humans are still involved in the decision-making loop.

According to BAE Systems Australia CEO, Gabby Costigan, the current trials come from a long history of the development of autonomous systems.

“BAE Systems Australia’s autonomous systems capability leverages more than three decades of collaboration between BAE Systems Australia and the Commonwealth Government through Programs such as Nulka and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM),” said Costigan.

Previously, autonomous systems used in this project have been applied to unmanned aerial systems and unmanned ground vehicles in the Australian and UK defence forces. The Australian Army is currently seeking more ways to incorporate autonomous systems, as demonstrated in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy. Supporting this strategy is the Trust Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (TAS-CRC) which will use the systems tested on the M113 platform for further research and development.

“Autonomous technologies will support soldier responsiveness in an accelerating warfare environment – increasing their ability to outpace, out-manoeuvre and out-think conventional and unconventional threats,” said Costigan.