Army continues to explore the opportunities of autonomous systems. At the forefront of this exploration is experimentation and concept demonstration conducted by the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO).
RICO was formed as part of the Future Land Warfare Branch in Army Headquarters following the release of the Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy in January 2019. Its work of examining emerging technologies for Army includes autonomy, alternative power and energy, and quantum technologies.
In 2019, RICO trialled and experimented with uncrewed ground vehicles, quadruped (four-legged) robots and advanced leader-follower technology. It also produced capstone papers on advanced manufacturing and on power and energy.
In partnership with BAE Systems Australia, Army enhanced two M113AS4 armoured vehicles to enable optional crewing of the platform. In October 2019 a concept demonstration of the autonomous M113AS4 in a battlefield setting at Majura Training Range (ACT) showed the potential to remove soldiers from some of the most dangerous tasks, and the ability to team humans and robotic systems together.
In the scenario, the combat team used unmanned aerial systems to locate the enemy position and provide persistent surveillance. The optionally crewed combat vehicles autonomously deployed ground robots to search and clear the area. The soldiers then deployed to the enemy position when it was deemed secure by their robotic teammates. Finally the vehicles conducted an autonomous casualty evacuation to a nominated casualty collection point away from the objective.
Army will continue to test and experiment with several robotic and autonomous systems to enhance its combat power.