The 10th Mountain Division (light infantry) based at Fort Drum, New York, is a mountain warfare unit testing a new a robotic pack-mule that can haul more than 1,000 pounds of equipment, weapons, fuel, and or ammunition, tremendously lightening the load for soldiers.
“These guys go through pretty rough terrain, all weather conditions,” 1st Lt. Diego Alonso, 1st Brigade Combat Team, told WWNY-TV News Channel 7.
In December 2017, the Army selected four robot vehicles from a total of eight to proceed to the Squad-Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) program’s operational evaluation phase with the 10th Mountain Division.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team is currently testing the robots of Mountain Peak, Fort Drum’s most extensive field training exercise of the year, which simulates war zone like environments and enables officers of 1st Brigade Combat Team to evaluate the machines.
“It’s a huge upgrade for the dismounted reconnaissance troop. I picked up five casualties in one night at different locations with this vehicle that I wouldn’t have been able to do. I’d have been able to make it to maybe two,” said 1st Sgt. Joshua Richards, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
SMET requires the four all-terrain transport vehicles to carry up to 1,000 pounds and be able to travel 60 miles over 72 hours. Each vehicle must have a “power generation system, as well, that can support an ever-expanding array of electronics, including communications gear, hand-held sensors, portable navigation systems, and electronic warfare equipment, that small Army unit carry with them even on short-duration operations,” said The Drive.
— 10th Mountain Div. (@10MTNDIV) December 4, 2018
Check out the “Grizzly,” an all-terrain transport system, carrying #10MTN Soldier gear through #NorthCountry brush and snow on the front lines of #MountainPeak. #Innovation @peocscss pic.twitter.com/ciygIsV1W0
— 10th Mountain Div. (@10MTNDIV) December 5, 2018
Troops will be able to control these “robotic pack mules” using handheld remote controls. A “follow-me” functionality, in which the robot will follow troops through all sorts of terrain has been a major requirement of SMET.
WWNY-TV News Channel 7 said troops will continue testing the prototypes into summer 2019.
The pilot test is currently being conducted at Fort Drum and Fort Campbell in Kentucky, before a broader deployment across the service in 2020.
“The decisions they make impact the Army of the future for a long time, so it’s outstanding to have this unit out here that’s really motivated and doing great stuff for us,” said Lt. Col. Jon Bodenhammer, who’s supervising the pilot testing program.
Robots appear to be the future on the modern battlefield. The next push will be the Army weaponizing these robots for the modern battlefield. It seems that robots and artificial intelligence will be making war decessions without any or limited input from humans.