Wired News: Army Future Passes Big Test

01.05.08

Categorie: Robots, Testing |

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A van full of insurgents speeds through the desert. They do not notice a series of networked ground sensors that have begun tracking their every move.

Hovering somewhere overhead, a tiny robot points its camera at the van and takes note of its color scheme and markings. An even bigger drone, thousands of feet above its hovering kin, maintains a God’s-eye vigil on the whole hunt.

Everything these robots see is radioed to monitors thousands of miles away — and into the targeting systems of a B-52 bomber winging, silent and nearly invisible, several miles overhead. …

Did [this test last week of the Army Future Combat Systems] work? Kinda.

The robots spotted the van; their targeting data bounced to a nearby unit of specially-equipped Humvees, then across the network to an Air Force intelligence cell in Langley, Virginia, then back to the B-52 — all in just seconds. The bomber simulated dropping a guided bomb to “destroy” the van. …

“There is ‘works’ and then there is ‘works,’” John Pike, an analyst with Globalsecurity.org, told Wired.com.

“A considerable fraction of the FCS network hardware does not currently exist,” Pike said.

(Photo: Army)

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One Response to “Wired News: Army Future Passes Big Test”

  1. [...] Recently Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took the military to task for investing hundreds of billions of dollars in imaginary future wars instead of focusing on the fights we’re already in. Today Army Lieutenant General Stephen Speakes, the top programs officer, spoke to bloggers about the service’s $200-billion Future Combat Systems family of networked robots and hybrid vehicles, a program that has come under Congressional scrutiny for cost and performance reasons. He insisted FCS was tailored for today’s wars: For example, right now if you take a look at 20,000 up-armored Humvees that are in theater today, virtually every one of them has FRAG Kit 5. FRAG Kit 5 is the precursor armor technology that we’re going to use on the [FCS] manned ground vehicles. When you take a look right now at the soldier who is using a robot to disarm an IED, they’re using one of the primitive robots that is a part of our capability in Future Combat Systems. The first point is the Army will not rest. If we have a capability that is needed in combat, we’re not standing on ceremony; we’re getting it out in the field as fast as we can. … [...]

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