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Robotics and Autonomous Systems Experimentation (RICO Update)

Soldiers clearing an urban area with robot dogs supporting.

Yesterday on the Land Power Forum—thanks to an article from Army News—we briefly introduced you to the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation Coordination Office (RICO) operating out of Future Land Warfare Branch of Army’s Land Capability Division.

The recently established Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation Office (RICO) is responsible for pursuing Army’s interests in Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) / Artificial Intelligence (AI) and disruptive technologies and ethically leverage them to gain asymmetric advantage in the future operating environment.

Today, we share with you a short video giving a taste of the breadth of what they are looking at implementing for the future Australian Army.

This video demonstrates the numerous areas currently being investigated by the RICO. For more detail on each area of interest, read on below.

Optionally Crewed Combat Vehicle (OCCV)

Two M113 AS4s were converted to include: manual control, tele-operation, autonomous waypoint navigation, and follow the leader capabilities. The two OCCVs were demonstrated in Canberra on 31 October 2019 in cooperation with Unmanned Aerial Systems and other ground robots in an enemy clear.

Autonomous Leader-Follower & Collision Avoidance

Two medium trucks have been converted to optionally crewed with a university partner, to operate in manual, tele-operation, leader follower and GPS waypoint navigation modes. This conversion includes a collision avoidance feature which detects mobile and static obstacles and machine learning to manoeuvre around the obstacle.

User Interface

Different user interfaces have been experimented, with operator feedback measured. Most interfaces include control stations which extend the generic architecture features in existing remote control systems or game consoles to reduce user training and increase familiarity.

Platform Actuation

Autonomous control involves the instillation of actuators to manually manipulate mechanisms installed onto the converted platforms. Combined with computer aided programming, the platform can be controlled by an external operator.  

Human-Machine Teaming

The RAS Strategy identifies five fields, including efficiency, force protection, generating scalable effects, improved decision making and improving soldier performance. Experimentation across multiple platforms (OCCV, UGV, quadrupeds, Medium trucks) has considered how humans and machines can combine to achieve team effects.

User Experimentation

UGVs and quadruped (robotic dogs) have participated in experimentation with soldiers to gain insights into potential application and functionality. 

UGV Trials

Uncrewed Ground Vehicles (UGVs) were experimented with over multiple activities with combat and logistic soldiers to gain insights into potential future applications.

The RICO will be releasing additional blog posts and articles in 2020, with topics including Quantum Technologies and Robotic Processing Automation.

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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