When looking a decade ahead, the direction is clear for our ground forces – unmanned vehicles. The induction of these vehicles and robots into the battlefield will dramatically change the future of urban warfare, leading modern day combat into new and unexpected directions.
In recent years, the very best minds of the IDF (Zahal) and the Defense Ministry have dedicated themselves to the development of advanced technology that may turn the tide in future conflicts. By improving technologies used by the IAF and the Israel Navy, in the next decade unmanned vehicles may become as common as drones.
Though there is still a long way to go before unmanned vehicles can be used on the battlefield, the first unmanned vehicle by the IDF (Zahal) has been patrolling borders for the last 6 years. The primary model, “Guardium,” is used mainly for observation. Its successor, “Border Protector”, expected to come into use this year (2015), will have the ability to patrol borders and deliver weapons and other paramount items to soldiers in the battlefield.
“Border Protector” is based off a modified Ford 350 vehicle and will be remote controlled. “It will be able to load more equipment, such as weapons and observation devices, than the previous model,” explains Maj. Lior Trabelsi, the Head of the Robotics Desk in the Weaponry Department of the Ground Forces.
In addition to the border patrolling vehicle, other unmanned vehicles will be utilized in years to come. One of the vehicles currently under development, the “Robotic-laptop soldier,” will assist soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps and infantry soldiers in underground combat. The idea of this small-scope robot is to take on dangerous missions, including patrolling and collecting information for the fighters on the ground. This will solve many of the problems soldiers are forced to face when operating underground, such as collapsing walls and lack of oxygen and lighting.
Are robots enough?
The ultimate goal is to develop unmanned vehicles and robots to the point where they can make autonomous decisions based on the information they are provided with. This means that once they receive a task, they can make the smartest decisions independently based on the information they collect. “We are definitely going in a direction where autonomous soldiers could carry the weight in the war. The intention is to increase the quantity of robots,” says Col. Yaron Sagiv, the Head of Technology Division in the Technology Brigade of the Ground Forces.
The development of technology such as unmanned vehicles is important when working to keep our soldiers safe. These machines can be used for patrolling dangerous areas or delivering necessary equipment when in the field – and will within the next decade set a new standard when fighting a war.