Autonomous vehicles move Army personnel

Two M113 AS4 Armoured Personnel Carriers will run using autonomous technologies, in a trial run by BAE Systems and the Australian Army.

Developed at BAE’s Edinburgh Parks facility, the trial will run throughout October, as the vehicles conduct experiments to test the applicability of autonomous thinking on the battlefield.

“Autonomous technology will assist soldiers to respond in an accelerating warfare environment – increasing their speed of initiative to outpace, out-manoeuvre and out-think conventional and unconventional threats,” said BAE Systems Australia CTO, Brad Yelland.

Once the first demonstrations are completed, the augmented vehicle will be turned over to the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre for industry and research partners to further develop autonomous technologies.

On December 1, 2018, the Australian Army released its Robotic & Autonomous Systems Strategy. Highlighting the move from remotely controlled systems, to optionally crewed vehicles to fully trusted autonomy, the current trial sits at the optionally crewed stage and augments traditional capabilities. Defined in this way, the strategy breaks down the various aspects of autonomy, and applies them to where they are needed for each project.

“The Australian Army Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy highlights the goals that Army is seeking from this disruptive technology,” said Yelland.

“Through this demonstration and the CRC program, we will help the Army achieve that.”

BAE Systems is the industry lead for Land Autonomy as part of the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence CRC, and works with Defence Science and Technology group to ascertain what soldiers will need on the future battlefield and develop systems to support them in those projected situations.

The current trial utilises locally developed autonomous systems for potential applications including intelligence gather and logistics support.

The Australian Army is exploring multiple methods for their vehicles to operate in future battlefields, either in this format as autonomous vehicles, or driven by electric power.