Spending on robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) will be higher than previously announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Craig, responsible for RAS in the British Army, told the SMi's Military Robotics and Autonomous Systems conference in London on 3-4 April.
Lt Col Craig said on 3 April, "The British Army is investing in excess of GBP100 million [more than USD130 million] in four robotic and autonomous systems projects." This compares to the GBP66 million from the UK Ministry of Defence's Transformation Fund that Williamson announced at the Army Warfare Experiment (AWE) Conference in London on 5 March would be spent to fast-track three military robotic projects onto the battlefield in 2019. These projects are robotic platforms, autonomous land and air logistics, and nano unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Williamson also announced the investment of GBP23 million in a fourth project, which is focused on robotic fighting vehicles, at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 11 February. The British Army will match transformation funding for projects that are successful, so investment in the four projects will exceed GBP100 million and could reach a total of GBP183 million.
One of the British Army's RAS spotlight projects enhanced through the Transformation Fund is the Coalition Assured Autonomous Resupply (CAAR) project, which comes under autonomous land and air logistics. CAAR is a joint venture between the UK and the US to demonstrate the use of RAS to deliver supplies and equipment to the frontline solider, with a significant capstone experiment and demonstration planned for this summer.
For the UK, the project consists of two parts: Ground Logistics Autonomous Manoeuvre (GLAM), focusing on semi-autonomous leader-follower technology employed on a logistics truck, and Autonomous Last Mile Resupply (ALMRS), now renamed Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTARR), using unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to deliver combat supplies to forward locations such as bases, infantry vehicles, and troops on combat operations.
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