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Science, Technology and Industry (Spotlight Brief 6/21)

The content in this article is an extract of Spotlight Brief 6/21.

ResQBot 2.0: An improved Design of a Mobile Rescue Robot with an Inflatable Neck Securing Device for Safe Casualty Extraction

Applied Sciences – Jun 2021

The authors of this study propose a novel design for a mobile rescue robot that can extract casualties from dangerous areas. They present ResQbot 2.0– a stretcher-type robot capable of safely performing extraction through loco-manipulation that is synchronised with a conveyer belt and a mobile base to load casualties from the ground onto a stretcher bed gently. They believe that their design will ensure the safety of first responders and minimise the possibility of creating further damage or additional risk to casualties. The verification work done through successful experiments in the Gazebo physics engine simulator offer additional opportunities for Army interest across other land materiel. These initial findings indicate that ResQBot 2.0 could prove invaluable for loading and transporting casualties for future Army rescue missions, or other mission sets in complex terrain.


‘Cork Rescue Robots Set to go Global to Assist in Rescues of Landmine Casualties,’ Echo Live, 03 Aug 21

‘How Robots Helped Out After the Surfside Condo Collapse,’ IEEE Spectrum, 02 Aug 21

‘Robots Still Suck. It’s All They Can Do to Stand Up – Never Mind Rise Up,’ The Register, 07 Jul 21

‘An expert on search and rescue robots explains the technologies used in disasters like the Florida condo collapse’, The Conversation, 30 Jun 21

‘Design and Development of a Mobile Robot for Search and Rescue Operations in Debris,’ International Journal of Applied Mathematics Electronics and Computers, 01 Dec 21

Autonomous Technology and Dynamic Obligations: Uncrewed Maritime Vehicles and the Regulation of Maritime Military Surveillance in the Exclusive Economic Zone

Asian Journal of International Law – Mar 2021

The value in having a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the maritime domain has led nations to focus investment on a range of maritime surveillance assets. For instance, Australia’s Attack-class submarine purchase is the largest acquisition project in Australian history. While ignored by other armies and maritime forces focusing on larger platforms; for a littoral force like the Australian Army, there must be smaller assets to provide similar capabilities in the inshore environments. The development of uncrewed marine vehicles (UMVs) will dramatically increase the possible scale in intelligence gathering operations. They can operate on or below the surface, be remotely controlled, pre-programmed, or have the capacity for some autonomous operations. In this article, Simon Mckenzie identifies some essential capabilities for UMVs to remain compatible with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Legal obligations will require equipping UMVs with the capacity to communicate something about their identity and the purpose of their mission. For the future Amphibious Centre of Excellence, an understanding of these issues is vital.


‘Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles,’ Congressional Research Service, 02 Aug 21

‘Drones of the sea: the rise of unmanned surface vehicles’, Naval Technology, 23 Jul 21

‘World-first Autonomous Marine Systems Course to Run in Townsville,’ Australian Defence Magazine, 29 Mar 21

‘Autonomous Marine Robots Sent Out to Explore and Maintain Equipment,’ Institutions of Mechanical Engineers, 17 Mar 21

‘Unmanned Surface and Underwater Vessels Receive New Position System Technology,’ Vision Systems Design, 06 Feb 21

Demonstrating interoperability between unmanned ground systems and command and control systems

International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems – May 21

This paper describes NATO efforts to integrate command and control systems with uncrewed ground vehicles. Primarily done at a basic standards approach (especially the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems) instead at the higher levels that most nations have attempted, it found that not only was this feasible, but highly beneficial as it could be extended rapidly. While this success raised additional complications, it reinforces the recent lines of effort established by the Land Network Integration Centre to develop common architectural systems for all Army materiel – including uncrewed platforms.


‘Embracing open architectures’, New Electronics, 02 Sep 21

‘Generic Vehicle Architecture’, Think Defence, 24 Jul 21

‘Defining a Future-Proof Generic Soldier Architecture’, Luminact, 2019

‘Australian Generic Vehicle Architecture’, Land Network Integration Centre, Mar 19

‘Implementing a Generic Vehicle Architecture for the Australian Defence Force Land Environment’, Luminact, 2017

Experimental evaluation of tasking and teaming design patterns for human delegation of unmanned vehicles

Human-Intelligent Systems Integration – Jun 21

This article examines the workload challenge in the context of human-machine teaming. It posits ways to tackle the demands created by coordinating multiple systems at once, reducing tasks to manageable workloads while providing the desired effect. It also takes it a step further, in investigating how to increase the uncrewed component from one platform to a swarm. Overall, it did find a method that translated to real world trials with German Air Force pilots, but one that relied heavily on automation. It also highlighted cultural, workload, and accuracy issues with delegations coming from the uncrewed platform to the crewed platform that need further study, as well as the unexpected role that individual pilot preference played in delegations.


‘Air Force picks two companies to develop mission planning autonomy to facilitate manned-unmanned teaming’, Military and Aerospace Electronics, 23 Aug 21

‘Boeing-Led Team Demonstrates A Manned-Unmanned Teaming Concepts For Naval Aviation’, Naval News, 05 Aug 21

‘US Army's new network software paves way for manned, unmanned teaming’, Janes, 09 Aug 21

‘Artificial Intelligence in Avionics’, Indian Defence Review, 16 Apr 21

‘Meet the Apache V6- the Army’s newest version of the iconic AH-64 gunship’, The Debrief, 11 Feb 21

Workload-adaptive and task-specific support for cockpit crews: design and evaluation of an adaptive associate system

Human-Intelligent Systems Integration – Jun 21

While the above article deals with the complexity for crews when teamed with uncrewed platforms, this article looks at the increasing workload on a normal, crewed aircraft. Army Aviation has dealt with this once, as the cognitive workload between Kiowa and Tiger increased – with Boxer and LAND 400-3 coming online this issue is likely to be faced by others. Here, Yannick Brand and Axel Schulte tackle means by which to lower that cognitive load. Automation is the quick and easy answer, and has been the go to for engineers for the past decades, but as Brand and Schulte find, this can have its own disadvantages. Instead of a ‘hidden’ system, their automated agent acts as another crewmember, building on traditional crew relationships and simplify the integration. This model appears to work quite well, with the agent able to balance needs and knowledge better, reducing the normal disadvantages.


‘What Will Come Out Of NHTSA's Tesla Autopilot Investigation?’, Forbes, 23 Aug 21

‘Cockpit Automation - Advantages and Safety Challenges’, Sky Bray, 13 Jul 21

‘At the sharp end: Innovative cockpit tech points the way’, Clean Sky, 30 Jun 21

‘Research advances human/artificial intelligence synergy for combat vehicles’, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, 27 May 21

‘Army researching enhanced lethality for future aircraft’, US Army, 27 May 21

Small Data’s Big AI Potential

Center for Security and Emerging Technology – Sep 21

Conventional wisdom is that AI demands large data sets. The more data, the more advanced and capable the AI. For many applications, this makes sense and is easy to achieve, especially for national governments. Critically though, and especially for the military, such large data sets are not always available. Furthermore, COVID-19 has demonstrated that big data sets can have flaws when something new or revolutionary comes into play.  In this article, the authors demonstrate clearly that small data set AI is feasible, and offer alternative approaches for the development and use of AI. Furthermore, quality requirements associated with small data sets can improve traditional AI. Realising this, and leveraging transfer learning and research into small data sets, has the potential for rapid expansion of the scope and abilities of AI, including into aspects of the military that may not have yet considered using AI.


‘Don’t buy the ‘big data’ hype, says cofounder of Google Brain’, Fortune, 30 Jul 21

‘AI Doesn’t Have to Be Too Complicated or Expensive for Your Business’, Harvard Business Review, 29 Jul 21

‘Big Data vs Small Data for AI’, aiSnacks, 25 Jul 21

‘Gartner Says 70% of Organizations Will Shift Their Focus From Big to Small and Wide Data By 2025’, Gartner, 19 May 21

‘From artificial intelligence to small data and graph technology, data and analytics leaders should think about leveraging these trends’, Gartner, 22 Feb 21

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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