Information Papers

Robotics

What is it?
Robotics are man-made devices that are capable of sensing and interacting with the environment in a manner normally performed by human operators. Robotic systems are made up of mechanical components, computers, sensors, and other specialized devices. Most current robotic applications are geared toward performing repetitive, dangerous, or difficult work. Applications within the Army are normally sorted into two broad categories: unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and unmanned aerial systems (UASs).

What has the Army done?
Several thousand man-portable UGVs were used over the last year to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most common application for UGVs is to support explosive ordnance disposal. Approximately 20 types of UASs support the Global War on Terrorism reconnaissance, operations, and intelligence missions.

Based on current and planned unmanned robotic capabilities, the Army Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA) developed a robotics assessment (August 2006) that identifies expected robotic capabilities and frames them against potential logistics policy and doctrinal implications.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
Many potential robotic applications will be available in the near- to mid-term. The vast majority of these applications are centered on tactical operations. With rapid improvements in robotic technologies, new opportunities are emerging for robotic systems to provide improved logistics support, especially in higher risk operations. In support of robotics logistics systems development, the LIA recently conducted an initial analysis that outlines near-term, high pay-off logistics applications of robotics technologies (November 2007). This analysis lays the groundwork for further experimentation with robotic capabilities to improve logistics speed and minimize Soldier exposure to dangerous operations. Additionally, the UAS Roadmap 2005-2030, developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, provides an overview of current capabilities and guidance for future development of UASs. Similarly, the Joint Robotics Master Plan, which is updated annually, provides a description of current UGV robotics projects and outlines planned future efforts.

Why is this important to the Army?
The use of unmanned robotics will continue to allow for high-performance, agile, and flexible Soldier support, while maximizing the protection of our Soldiers.

Mr. J Yates (703) 805-5029