The U.S. Army announced a plan to receive first autonomous vehicles for two transportation battalions by summer 2019, according to the article published in the January – March 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine.
A two U.S. Army’s transportation battalions will receive first autonomous leader-follower systems as part of advanced robotics programme.
“The Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s work with the Robotic Operating System – Military (ROS-M) covers a spectrum of autonomy and robotics, including small explosive ordnance disposal-assist robots that have been fielded as part of the advanced leader-follower capabilities that Soldiers in two transportation battalions will see by summer 2019,” said in
The ROS-M uses an open-source approach and a widely accepted software framework with common government and industry software to develop military robotics and autonomous systems. The open-source approach allows developers to create software modules for different applications and enables integrators to build modular systems using the best software modules available for military autonomous systems.
Robotics helps Soldiers in two ways: It eliminates the need for Soldiers to conduct mundane, dangerous or repetitive tasks that can be automated, and it increases the standoff distance between Soldiers and a threat, which can greatly enhance safety. Additionally, automation can increase logistics on convoy missions.
For example, a pair of Soldiers can operate a convoy that normally requires two Soldiers in each vehicle, freeing the additional Soldiers to conduct other missions, such as providing security for the convoy.
Leader-Follower is still a limited form of autonomy — but those limits are more about Army tactics and culture than the technology itself.
The U.S. Army is expected that autonomous systems and robots will take their place on the battlefields of the near future. They will be used in the more prosaic task of delivering ammunition and other supplies, freeing up more personnel to concentrate on warfighting tasks.
The Army is ready for unmanned vehicles but not yet for a completely unmanned convoy, which is slated for a later phase of the Automated Ground Resupply program, albeit perhaps as early as 2022.