UGV: When No Man Should Go

Back before 1990, the Department of Defense initiated plans for the planning and deployment of robotic vehicle platforms in the battlefield and a goal to standardize its interfaces and architecture. Robotics industry leaders say that advances in military, transportation, medical, and other non-manufacturing robotics applications, its research and its development investments are justified by dramatic potential benefits, and will provide the technologies to advance future generations of robots for application in manufacturing. Torco Robotics and other groups like Oshkosh Defense have combined forces with the US Marines and the US Armed Forces to give autonomous vehicles the chance to lead or follow Warfighters.


Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) can be controlled remotely through teleoperation and its functionalities have even been in the works at our local University of Texas at Arlington. They’re equipped with sensors, cameras, and attachments that enable sampling while offering the ability to have information displayed to the operator. These machines can operate in GPS-denied environments and are equipped with machine learning techniques that can be applied to motion planning and perception which prove perfect for clearing obstructions, or performing perimeter security to ultimately protect a human Warfighter from potential danger while improving safety and situational awareness. “Having completed several initial tests of automated transport vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, and elsewhere, the service expects to have a finished requirements document ready by fall in order to advance a “leader-follower” semi-automated technology, where several unmanned vehicles in a convoy follow a manned lead vehicle”

These practices, however, conflict with International humanitarian laws. “One of the things that holds us back from barbarism in contexts of war is this distinction between combatants and civilians,” said David Mepham, the United Kingdom director of Human Rights Watch. “We are worried about a robotic weapon of the future not being able to tell the difference between a child holding out an ice cream and someone holding a weapon.”

The UGVs will be operated remotely and monitored, to reduce the risk of a situation that would conflict with humanitarian laws. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) asserts that “Reducing manning or eliminating it altogether in logistics supply convoys would save American lives in the future,” and no matter what the mission goals are, these unmanned vehicles can still interact with harmful substances and objects, clear ground, and provide security.