Prison » Coming soon to a battlefield near you: Pentagon’s robot vehicles

May 2, 2018

Self-driving cars may become a reality on our roads at some point in the near future, but war robots will roam the world’s battlefields before that, according to the US Department of Defense.

“We’re going to have self-driving vehicles in theater for the Army before we’ll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told a hearing on Capitol Hill last month. “But the core technologies will be the same.”

More than half of combat zone casualties involve logistics and transport personnel. Griffin believes that, the fewer people involved in these roles, the fewer the casualties.

“You’re in a very vulnerable position when you’re doing that kind of activity,” Griffin said. “If that can be done by an automated unmanned vehicle with a relatively simple AI driving algorithm where I don’t have to worry about pedestrians and road signs and all of that, why wouldn’t I do that?”

With civilian companies like Tesla, Uber, Ford and General Motors all developing and testing autonomous vehicles, the military has been keeping a close eye on the technology. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded research into self-driving vehicles since it sponsored its first competition in the area in 2004.

At the moment, several autonomous vehicles are in the works or are already in use by the US military.


Developed by BAE Systems, Ironclad is a miniature tracked vehicle capable of operating in urban or off-road environments. Its modular platform means it can be fitted with different equipment, making it useful for reconnaissance, casualty evacuation, bomb disposal, and combat…

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