Photo of the T-14 Armata, main battle tank. Moscow / Russia - May 6, 2018: rehearsal of the parade dedicated to victory in the Second World War. A heavy military vehicle rides through the streets of Moscow

Advancements In Military Automation

Anna Sapiga
Anna Sapiga
PA Engineer

The advancement in robotics and automation have transformed manufacturing industries across the globe, and dramatically increased the efficiency of consumer products. The advancement of technology has not only benefited the civilian sector, the largest benefactor is in fact the military. Military defense automation already established itself in the cold war era, but new robotic and artificial intelligence technology has begun to cause exponential growth in the field. In the last decade, multiple world powers have committed significant amounts of resources in developing military automation technology, and advancement they have made will change the landscape of warfare forever. This article will take a look at a few of the exemplar applications automation has made in the advancement in the military.

Autonomous combat vehicles have emerged in the past few years as a major player in the future theater of war. The semi-autonomous battle tank T-14 Armata was showcased by the Russian military on the Victory Day parade in 2015. This marked the first next-generation tank to be entered into serial production. The most innovative design aspect of the T-14 Armata is the unmanned turret; instead of having a traditional three-person crew to drive the tank and man the turret, the new T-14 only requires two crew members to operate. This reduces the weight and vulnerability of the vehicle, as the tank requires less space for the extra crewman, and leaves the enemy with one less spot to land a kill shot. Since the turret is unmanned, the structure is basically autonomous. The range of its movement is most likely supported by multiple actuators combined with an automatic gearbox. An active protection system is also equipped to the T-14 Armata, which autonomously detects threats and fires munitions to counter incoming projectiles. As automaton technology advances, tanks like the T-14 will only become more deadly and common.

Another area of interest in the military that is beginning to gain traction is the cyborgization of human soldiers; human soldiers with robotic augmentations. This will produce combatants with quicker reaction times, robotic precision and strength, combined with the superior cognitive abilities of humans. The solder will have many wearable pieces of technology such as a head-up display helmet and robotic exoskeleton gear. The exoskeletons will enable soldiers to carry gear and move obstacles that would normally be too heavy, while also drastically increasing the soldier’s mobility and survivability on the battlefield. The head-up display helmet can greatly increase the rate of the information that can be transferred from command to the soldiers. A live feed display of the battlefield from aerial view could be accessed by the ground soldier at all times, which would prove an enormous tactical advantage.

Photo of a military robot at a mountains

Finally, there are military robots, the most popular depiction of military advancement in popular culture. Military robots are autonomous or remote-controlled robots developed for military operations. The applications can be transport, rescue or combat. Robots come in many forms, they can travel by land, air, sea or just be stationary. There are many advantages combat robots can bring to the table: by deploying autonomous robots in dangerous operations, the military can save human lives and keep them out of harm’s way. Autonomous robots also do not suffer from the effects of fatigue, stress, emotion or adrenaline. The robots will, in theory, always obey the laws of war and rules of engagement. The lack of emotion and passion will also prevent them from potentially unethical behaviors in wartime. With the advancement in automation, the capability of military robots has also improved dramatically. The mechanical maneuverability has surpassed their human counterparts in war, making the response time and calibration on targeting faster and deadlier due to more efficient and powerful actuators.

As technology advances, better actuators and automation technology will be implemented in the military. The robotic military assets will continue to improve and outperform their human counterparts. The advancements in automation will continue to influence the advancement in the military and will play a major part in the future of warfare.

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