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Army to Evaluate Autonomous Wingman Capability of Combat Vehicles Through Tech Demonstrations

The U.S. Army plans to conduct a series of demonstrations by the summer of 2017 at Fort Benning in Georgia in order to assess the potential role of combat vehicles as “robotic wingmen,” Defense News reported Wednesday.

Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general at the Army’s Combined Arms Center in Kansas, told reporters that the service branch plans to equip an Abrams tank with a robotic loader and allow the weapons loader to control unmanned ground and aerial systems, Jen Judson writes.

The Army will also use Humvees and M113 armored vehicles to demonstrate the robotic wingman concept in order to facilitate the development of programs of record for both semiautonomous and autonomous wingmen, according to the service branch’s slides presented during a capabilities data exchange between industry and the Army Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia.

The semiautonomous robotic platform is set to enter the program of record in 2023 and would allow the combat vehicles to perform obstacle detection and avoidance as well as navigation functions, Judson reports.

The Army expects the autonomous wingman to be a program of record by 2035 and would be equipped with teleoperated weapons and navigation capability, the report added.

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