Technology

British Troops Trial New Generation Of 'Smart Machines'

The Ministry of Defence is looking to reduce the burden of war fighting on soldiers by using software to carry out a number of tasks.

British military personnel have been working with a new generation of smart machines as part of trials that could "change the way that military operations are conducted".

The two-week experiment on Salisbury Plain saw British Army soldiers and aircrew combine their core skills with uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous ground vehicles (UGVs).

Helicopter pilots controlled UAVs from the cockpit, providing ground troops and vehicles with improved situational awareness.

While tank commanders and dismounted troops used UGVs and UAVs to find targets in complex urban environments.

Scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been working on the trial which falls under the Army Warfighting Expertiment - a 10-year project that gives personnel the opportunity to test futuristic technology.

DSTL's project manager Jamie 'M' said "these types of experiments are really important for the future".

"If we're going to keep pushing forward and understanding autonomous technologies and behaviours, we need to have these experiments where we can be right at the beginning of the science and get soldiers’ inputs straight away into the development of the systems," he said.

It comes as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) looks to reduce the collective burden of war fighting on soldiers by using software to carry out a number of tasks.

Military personnel used the MIRA Ground Vehicle to find targets and provide troops with improved situational awareness (Picture: DSTL).

This includes combat support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Corporal Liam Fisher, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said: "We can get ‘hands on’ with the drones, get ‘hands on’ with the ground vehicles and find the people you need to find.

"It will absolutely make a difference, there are parts where you can't go, especially for your dismounts. So instead of using ground troops, you can push the UGVs out or other vehicles out and get them to do your job for you instead."

Cover image: A MIRA ground vehicle used in the DSTL experiment which partnered military personnel with next-generation smart machines (Picture: DSTL).