Future of human-machine integration must bring right mix of robotic elements to formations

By Jerome AliottaOctober 5, 2023

Human Machine Integration
Advances in ground robotics and autonomy and the effective fusion of robotic systems into formations will provide Soldiers new capabilities to help the Army achieve goals for multi-domain operations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — As ground robotics and autonomy are expected to play a critical role in future warfare, four Army leaders will jump start AUSA with a Warriors Corner discussion on human-machine integration at 12:50 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, 2023.

Michael Cadieux, director of U.S. Army DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center; along with Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team, shortened NGCV CFT; Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, commanding general at Maneuver Center of Excellence; and Col. Shane Upton, director of the Contested Logistics CFT, will address formation-based concepts developed with human-machine integration advances. Brig. Gen. Stephanie Ahern, concepts director at Army Futures Command, will moderate the panel discussion.

The session will be livestreamed on DVIDSHub.net.

Transforming for the future fight requires engagement across the Army and joint force. Advances in ground robotics and autonomy and the effective fusion of robotic systems into formations will provide new capabilities to help the Army achieve goals for multi-domain operations.

The fusion of robotics in formations is already taking place on the ground at various Army training locations.

“Soldier Touchpoints help us to help define future tactics and techniques for fighting with these revolutionary systems while informing future required capabilities for the science and technology community to develop,” Cadieux said.

“Human-machine integration is all about bringing the right mix of robotic elements to our formations to enable a total formation that is more capable than the sum of either the human or robotic elements,” he said.

Robotic combat vehicles will provide formation leaders new options on both the offense and the defense. The NGCV CFT has been at the forefront of robotic combat vehicle development and the experimentation that refines those vehicles.

“We’re already seeing the first robotic capabilities that we’ll be fielding, and our teams for years have been experimenting with the best way to integrate them into formations,” Norman said.

“We’re not sure yet what the integrated formations will look like, but it could require warfighters to control multiple platforms simultaneously, or perhaps multiple warfighters working different parts of the same system, or the flexibility to move between these two paradigms as the mission requires,” Norman said.

Robotic combat vehicles can accomplish some of the more dangerous and mundane tasks, such as refueling and for port logistics, while freeing up Soldiers to do the tasks that call for more thinking.

“Human-machine integration is fundamental to sustaining the future joint force operating in a contested logistics environment,” Upton said.

The integration of robotics into manned formations will iterate between doctrinal and training insights informing what the robots need to do and insights from experiments with the robots informing how doctrine and training need to adapt.

The Army has created a ground vehicle autonomy strategy built on a foundation of modular open systems approach, or MOSA, which will enable common unmanned maneuver capabilities across the ground vehicle fleet.

“Building a MOSA based, common approach to ground autonomy software lets the Army collaborate with a wide range of industry-leading partners while controlling current and future costs,” Cadieux said.

Understanding formation-based concepts developed with Human-Machine Integration advances is a key priority to designing the Army of 2040.

“The technologies Army pursues in the ground vehicle space drive at both robotic capability growth and in strengthening the interface between the Warfighter and the robotic elements,” Cadieux said.