Recently, the US military conducted one of its largest ever high-tech experiments as four-legged robot dogs scurried onto an airfield in the Mojave Desert. These resembled scenes from science-fiction movies, but the actual truth is that the robot-age is fast becoming our reality. This experiment was the second demonstration of the new Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), an artificial intelligence and digital battle network system which was designed to collect, process, and distribute data among the U.S and its allied forces. Having gone through several tests, including partial tests with the SpaceX Starlink satellites, it seems apt to say that the robot dogs are good to go.
Undoubtedly, this latest technological development will be an asset to the US military. According, to Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, the ABMS will provide soldiers “a dizzying array of information” to assess data and have data synthesis done in nanoseconds, as they fight in battles. He further buttressed that “valuing data as an essential warfighting resource, one no less vital than jet fuel or satellites, is key to next-gen warfare”. The robot dogs were given the code name, Vision 60 UGVs or “autonomous unmanned ground vehicles” by their manufacturers, Ghost Robotics of Philadelphia.
The US Air Force department considers the ABMS as a top modernization priority as they spent $3.3 billion, over the course of five years, to develop the technology. The experiment witnessed contributions from every service department including the Coast Guard, over 30 military platforms and major industry partners. 30 different testing locations around the country were used. It is believed that the UGVs have the ability to operate in any terrain or surrounding while being adaptable to carrying an array of sensors on its platform, reduced complexity and increased durability.
Science and technology have become intertwined with the very existence of humanity; every aspect of human development has been influenced by these phenomena. We are left to wonder if artificial intelligence will rewire us and sometimes fear the transformations that accompany the human-robot relationship. However, what is certain is that robotics and artificial intelligence will continue to be applied to every human endeavour.