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AUVSI: Army keynotes outline thoughts on unmanned future

16th August 2011 - 16:06 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Keynoting at the opening of Unmanned Systems North America two US Army generals outlined their views on the importance of current and future unmanned systems.

Lt Gen Rick Lynch, Commanding General US Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, pointed to three basic categories that he viewed as being important for unmanned systems development in the military arena.

Lynch believes the three most important ways that unmanned systems can assist the warfighter are: improved surveillance, reduced workload; and increased survivability for the warfighter.

'What’s lacking still today is the ability for a persistent stare.' Lynch stated. Pointing to his own experience in Iraq he added: 'What I did not have was the ability to watch an area with a persistent stare. What I had was unmanned aerial systems...but the problem was I didn't have sufficient loiter time.'

He added that the expected decrease in defence budgets would also improve an opportunity for unmanned systems. With the expectation that the US armed forces will have to find a trillion dollars in efficiencies, Lynch said that unmanned systems could provide a way to reduce the workload both in front line operations and at home bases.

Finally, Lynch concluded that unmanned systems can make the battlefield more survivable for warfighters in a number of ways. However, he was concerned that the roll out of systems was not necessarily at the speed he would like. 'If we're not fielding, we're failing,' Lynch stated. 'I see progress but not progress at the pace that we would like.'

Following on from Lynch, Maj Gen Walter Davis Deputy Director, US Army Capabilities Integration Center, US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), outlined his organisation's thoughts on the future of unmanned systems.

Davis said that the ability to weaponise and humanise robots is no longer science fiction and that the military and society in general need to prepare for that future. 'We need to really consider the moral and ethical implications,' he stated.

'What are the considerations for when we have truly autonomous systems,' Davis stated. In order to ensure that fully autonomous systems can be integrated within the military, it would need to have trust and confidence in the systems.

Turning to the potential capabilities that unmanned systems can provide to the warfighter, Davis stated that robotics should enable and replace the human, but that the user should not have accommodate the systems that they utilise.

The tasks that TRADOC believes can provide the greatest potential gains for the warfighter include logistics, medical, security, maintenance and engineering. 'The key point to be made is that we have to do a good assessment of robotics in relation to the tasks,' Davis concluded.

The Shephard News Team


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