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Military vehicles with new technology could remove the need for humans on the battlefield

Key Points
  • Connected and intelligent technologies are starting to impact a number of military organizations.
  • Autonomous tech could potentially remove soldiers from future battlefields. 
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Aerospace firm BAE Systems is working with the Australian Army to convert two M113 AS4 armored personnel carriers (APCs) to use autonomous tech that could, according to the company, "take soldiers off future battlefields."

In an announcement Tuesday, Britain's BAE Systems stated that the Australian Army would carry out experiments in order to "better understand the opportunities to employ autonomy on the battlefield." Work on the vehicles is expected to be finished by October.

The autonomous APCs will also help the army to implement its Robotic & Autonomous Systems (RAS) Strategy, BAE Systems said. Autonomous vehicles could potentially carry out a range of tasks including logistics support and intelligence gathering, the firm added. Broadly, the Australian Army's RAS Strategy focuses on how it can leverage emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems.

"Autonomous technology will assist soldiers to respond in an accelerating warfare environment — increasing their speed of initiative to outpace, out-maneuver and out-think conventional and unconventional threats," Brad Yelland, the chief technology officer of BAE Systems Australia, said in a statement.

Connected and intelligent technologies are starting to impact a number of military organizations. In February 2019, for example, the British Army awarded a £1 million ($1.22 million) contract to a software developer to "explore how virtual reality can be integrated into soldier training."

At the time, the British Army said the pilot scheme would look to test a range of virtual reality applications. These include high resolution virtual reality headsets; avatars that can be customized to replicate facial features and body shapes; and technology that offers data capture and analysis to help soldiers "better understand their own performance."