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Future Combat Vehicles Need Manned, Unmanned Options

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U.S. Army
Monday, January 22, 2018

The Army is working internally and with industry to greatly expand warfighting capabilities, with one planned option to have every vehicle operate either under the control of a soldier or autonomously, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley says.

“Every vehicle needs to have the capability to be robotic,” Milley said at a Jan. 17 breakfast hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare. Having alternative fuel options, better protection options and lighter weight are also priorities, he said. A lighter vehicle has better strategic and tactical mobility.

Robotic vehicles “will be a fundamental shift in ground combat capabilities that doesn’t exist today,” Milley said. Unknown, for the moment, is the autonomy of those vehicles because the outer bounds of artificial intelligence aren’t clear.

The Army has been looking at electric and hybrid power for noncombat vehicles, and at natural gas, fuel cells and hydrogen for combat vehicles.

Having autonomous vehicle and weapons capabilities is a way of protecting soldiers in the highly lethal battlefield Milley expects in the future.