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AUKUS partners trial autonomous systems in Australia

The Viking 6×6 multirole UGV was used in the AUKUS TORVICE trial, held in Australia in 2023. The vehicle can carry payloads weighing up to 750 kg and is suitable for a range of missions including last-mile logistics, surveillance, combat, and improvised explosive device detection. (Crown Copyright)

Australia hosted a robotics and autonomous systems trial under the AUKUS Pillar 2 initiative to evaluate the technologies' resilience and performance in contested environments, the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) announced on 5 February.

The trial – Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in Contested Environments (TORVICE) – was held between4 September and 5 October 2023 at the Cultana Training Area in South Australia and involved placing autonomous assets provided by the UK and the US under challenging, contested electromagnetic environments generated by Australia, a Dstl spokesperson informed Janes.

Two UK IDV Robotics Viking unmanned ground vehicles were involved in TORVICE along with a Jeepand two Ford Raptors provided by the US that were “equipped with a US Army-developed autonomy system”, the spokesperson said.

The primary focus of TORVICE was on assessing the resilience of the “AUKUS AI [artificial intelligence] and autonomy systems when subjected to electronic warfare (EW), laser attacks, and disruptions in position, navigation, and timing”, as well as discovering the various risks involved and any future technologies, which can improve the reliability of these systems when operating in such environments, the spokesperson added.

TORVICE follows the inaugural AUKUS AI and autonomy trial under Pillar 2 in Aprilin the UK, which sought to collaboratively swarm different AI platforms to detect and track military targets in real time.

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