The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working on a new project that involves partners like dismounted soldiers with autonomous robots and drones called Squad X. The project is designed to provide soldiers with more information about their surroundings. One of the most important issues on the battlefield is the ‘fog of war’, therefore, DARPA squad X pairs up with Marines and robots to eliminate fog of war.
‘Fog of war’ is a catchphrase used to explain the uncertainty of the surroundings. Technology has played an important role in order to eliminate this scout on horseback, balloonists, airplanes, and satellites have been able to deliver more and more information to commanders, allowing them to respond to their enemies and surroundings more effectively. The introduction of drones, robots, and sensors onto the battlefield promise illuminate one’s surroundings further, which is where Squad X appears to come in.
DARPA first tested out the Squad X program last year in California accompanied with a week-long test. In the tests, they had used US Marines using drones and robots to coordinate their movements and to detect potential threats in the field. Also, the project uses a variety of tools to collect and transmit information to Marines and soldiers, autonomous robots that can drive around their locations; aerial drones that can survey their immediate surroundings.
An artificial intelligence system processed the information from the sensors and presented the relevant data to the participants. There are two systems at the heard of project one from CACI called BITS Electronic Attack Module (BEAM) Squad System (BSS), which allows personnel to “detect, locate, and attack specific threats in the radio frequency and cyber domains.
Lockheed Martin’s Augmented Spectral Situational Awareness and Unaided Localization for Transformative Squads (ASSAULTS) system, uses drones and robots to locate targets and engage them. DARPA says that the systems provide small squads battalion-level insights and intelligence. DARPA squad X project manager Lt. Col. Phil Root explained that the systems that they were testing don’t involve weapons. This system is specifically designed to gather relevant information, process it, and then allow soldiers and Marines to act on what they learn.
Lockheed martin assault system outfits Marines with vests rigged with sensors and accompanied by the drones and robots, who then moved through the desserts and simulated urban environment. DARPA also noted that the robots are always exploring and making the most of the current situation to gather information and keep an eye on their surroundings. Another experiment included a “supernode” an autonomous off-road Polaris loaded down with sensors.
Though DARPA is not developing tools only for the soldiers but also develop the hardware and tactics to allow this to operate seamlessly within the close-combat ground environment.