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At the end of last year British troops tested a range of new robotic and unmanned technologies, including surveillance drones and ground robots, during the first Autonomous Warrior exercise. We take a look at some of the prototypes that were trialled for future combat use.

We speak to the developers of the US Army’s new body armour to find out what improved functions it offers, take a look at a real-life Iron Man suit in action on a Royal Marines training course, and find out about potential applications of quantum sensing in the military.

Plus, we speak to Leonardo about its infrared search and track technology for fighter aircraft, explore the US DoD’s plan to create directed-energy systems for space-based missile defence, and find out about Polaris Consulting’s Ants On Deck routing algorithm for autonomous surface vehicles.

In this issue

Exercise Autonomous Warrior 2018 and the future of battlefield robots

During the four-week Autonomous Warrior 2018 exercise British troops and industry partners developed and tested more than 50 prototype technologies including enhanced surveillance drones and unmanned vehicles. Talal Husseini finds out how the technologies could be used to serve and protect troops on the ground.
Read the article here.

Under armour: the US Army’s new soldier protection system

After years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and learning the deadly lessons from those conflicts, the US Army is introducing newer, more adaptable soldier protection for frontline units. Grant Turnbull spoke to the officer responsible for introducing the new system to find out how it will enhance soldier protection going forward.
Read the article here.

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Meet the Royal Marines’ Iron Man

A former Royal Marine reservist has invented a jet suit and demonstrated it at the Royal Marines’ Commando Training Centre in Devon, UK, in true Iron Man style.
Watch the video here.

Quantum leap: atomic sensing for the military

Quantum sensing promises to revolutionise several areas for the military, from providing highly accurate positioning data to detecting submarines in the world’s oceans. Grant Turnbull asks US Army scientists at the forefront of the research how it could be used.
Read the article here.

Infrared search and track technology gives fighter aircraft stealth vision

Infrared search and track technology promises to enhance sensor suites for next-generation fighter aircraft, especially when it comes to spotting stealth aircraft without using radar. Grant Turnbull visited European defence manufacturer Leonardo in Italy to find out more about this technology.
Read the article here.

Directed energy: the holy grail of space-based missile defence

The use of laser weapons in the battle space continues to attract investment and attention has recently turned to space. Andrew Tunnicliffe asks whether the US Department of Defence’s plan to use directed energy weapons from space is feasible.
Read the article here.

Ants on Deck helps autonomous boats find the way

Polaris Consulting, part of the TP Group,is developing Ants on Deck, a pioneering software system that automatically generates the optimal routes for autonomous surface vehicles based on the way ant colonies search for food. Berenice Baker finds out how it could transform the way the Royal Navy uses autonomous vessels, saving fuel and avoiding collisions.
Read the article here.

Next issue preview

More than 50 nations have signed an international cybersecurity agreement that aims to put some standards on cybersecurity and cyber warfare. The agreement was released by the French President Emmanuel Macron during the Paris Peace Forum, but has no legal binding. We ask defence and security experts about the importance of international collaboration to defend against cyberattacks.

We also investigate potential weaknesses in the F-35’s external support systems that could leave the fighter vulnerable to hacking, check in on the latest progress of the French-German joint fighter jet development programme, and find out how Dstl is using artificial intelligence to gather accurate, real-time information on hostile radars.

NATO is facing challenges with troop mobility in Europe – an issue that has been under the spotlight since Russia seized Ukrainian territory in 2014. We find out how new software is intended to help with the logistics of moving equipment across different terrains and national infrastructures more quickly and efficiently.

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